You have been working with a recruiter to find an emergency medicine position at a major urban hospital. You’ve both checked and rechecked all of the hospitals on your most preferred list. Nothing. You have even checked some of the B-list hospitals you are willing to work. Nothing there either. Then your recruiter suggests locum tenens. Now what?

The thought of locum tenens never crossed her mind. And yes, you were a little surprised that a recruiter would recommend it to you. But none of that matters now. What matters is the fact that you have an opportunity to get to work. Should you take the opportunity, or should you let it go?

Don’t Immediately Dismiss Locum Tenens

The first thing most recruiters would probably tell you is to not immediately dismiss locum tenens without giving it some consideration. Locum tenens emergency medicine is a very respectable career choice. Moreover, hospitals now value locums more than they ever have in the past.

The fact is that you will not know what locum tenens offers if you do not at least give yourself a chance to learn more about it. You don’t necessarily have to say yes right away, but at least take some time to think about it. And while you’re thinking, do some research. Find out what it’s all about.

Consider Your Career Goals

Any offer from a recruiter is sufficient reason to consider your career goals. If you have settled strictly on practicing emergency medicine from now until retirement, you’ve already eliminated the need to position yourself to climb up the career ladder. Locum tenens might be a good fit. If you eventually want to get into administration though, you’re eventually going to need to find that permanent placement position that allows you to start your climb.

Consider Your Lifestyle

The next consideration is your lifestyle. Locum tenens isn’t for everyone; especially doctors who don’t travel well. Getting the most out of your time as a locum tenens clinician requires, at the very least, not letting the travel get to you. It’s even better if you love travel.

Talk to Other Locums

You have a lot to consider before you can determine whether or not locum tenens is right for you. So take your time to think about it. But don’t stop there. Also make the effort to talk to other locums about their experiences. Rest assured they will be brutally honest with you. They will tell you what they love about it, what they hate about it, and just about everything else you might want to know.

Keep Your Options Open

This last bit of advice only applies in the event you decide to take up the recruiter on his/her offer. As a new locum physician, keep your options open. In terms of your first few assignments, don’t be so choosy. Take what you can get just to get your foot in the door. The longer you work as a locum, the more respect you will earn within the system. That will allow you more opportunity to scrutinize future assignments.

Keep your options about permanent placement open as well. You may land an assignment you absolutely love, then discover near the end of the contract that the facility wants to keep you on permanently. You’ll have something else to think about.

There’s a lot to locum tenens that you may not know. So if a recruiter offers you an opportunity to practice emergency medicine as a locum, don’t dismiss it immediately. It could turn out to be exactly what you been looking for.