I have had many readers and peers ask me how do they know if locum tenens is right for them? I am a strong believer that locum tenens is for everyone. The most important aspect is just finding the right fit for you.
For instance, if you have been working in a specialty field for the past several years, you may be interested in switching to a different specialty or to primary care. You can definitely do this through locum tenens! Should you accept an assignment in a new field seeing 30 patients per day? Probably not. For sure there are facilities out there that are willing to give you a lighter patient load and training into your new field, because they are in that much need of a provider.
Some people have asked me if locum tenens is only for single nurse practitioners without children. The answer is No. I know mothers that work as travel nurse practitioners. They commute to a city about 1 hour away from home and work 2-3 days per week. This allows them to be flexible if they need to be home with their kids, while also keeping their pockets full. I know other locum tenens providers that have their spouse travel with them on each assignment.
Is locum tenens only for outgoing and social providers? You don’t have to be the friendliest person in the world to be a locum tenens nurse practitioner. But you should have an open mind and be able to quickly adapt to new environments. This doesn’t mean you have to be the loudest or most talkative person. I like to think I am an introvert but have found myself easily adapting to new locum tenens positions and getting along with my new coworkers.
I think most people are afraid to take that first step of starting traveling/locum tenens because it is an unknown. It is definitely worth the risk, and I think after the first two assignments, you will figure out if locum tenens is right for you or not.
I was certainly afraid to begin locum tenens myself. It was something I had always wanted to do, but could not bring myself to take that first giant leap. For the first time in my life I was going to be completely by myself for a long period of time. I thought I would miss my friends and family like crazy. Good thing I have been fortunate that they visit me, I see them in between assignments, and that we keep in touch.
I thought I would get lonely. Luckily, everyone has been friendly both at work and in the community where I have found it easy to meet new people (not to mention I know people in almost every state). I contemplated the notion that maybe I wouldn’t be as competent in a different setting. I have found that healthcare is always a learning and adapting process, that makes you a stronger provider when thrown into new settings
If you are ready for a change, feeling burnt out or unappreciated at your current job, try locum tenens! I always receive questions about the pay rate for traveling nurse practitioners. Even though the pay rate is higher in locum tenens then in full-time positions, there are other unquantifiable benefits of being a locum tenens nurse practitioner. These include: flexibility; not working more than a 40 hour shift for free; unlimited time off; avoiding bureaucracy and the complications that come with it; of course traveling for free; and my favorite – challenging yourself!
One of the best things in locum tenens is having an end date. Instead of getting lost in the motions of everyday work life, you can have something to look forward to (the end of your current assignment and the beginning of a new one). I am so glad I took that first step of starting locum tenens, and I haven’t regretted it since!