This article is written by April Han. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur. With a formal education in Business Administration and years of working with healthcare startups under her belt, she is able to provide valuable advice to aspiring locums in terms of creativity, innovation, and discovery of solutions to the challenges amid our society’s growing demand for health services. A life-long learner with a growth mindset, she is currently expanding her knowledge of the healthcare marketplace through online courses and hands-on training from world-class mentors.
There are many ways to find work as a locum GP, but working with a locum agency is one of the easiest and most popular. A close second is working completely independently. This means you keep all the money you earn from your locum work. You also have more freedom regarding decision-making. But independent locums face a lot of administrative tasks which most physicians aren’t used to and possibly has little to no patience in handling them.
So, to help you decide whether working with a locum agency is right for you, we came up with a list of its advantages and disadvantages.
The Cons of Working with a Locum Agency
- You’d be getting some emergency work. A lot of hospitals and practices get the wrong idea that locum agencies charge higher than independent locum doctors do. This could be true in some cases, but there are others that set reasonable fees. Still, the notion that agencies are expensive is one of the reasons practices don’t reach out to agencies as their first choice. Agencies often save these practices, however, when they are in crisis or when they badly need a locum doctor to fill up a slot at the last minute.
- You lose the joys of being self-employed. As was already mentioned above, working independently has its own perks. Those perks are usually the reason physicians decided to do locum work. When you start working with a locum agency you can kiss those perks goodbye. For instance, one of the advantages of working as locum doctor is better income. By setting yourself up as a business, you can file your expenses as tax-deductible. Working simply as a freelance GP gets rid of such benefit.
- Some agencies are too strict. The keyword here is some. So, if you decide that working with a locum agency is a great idea, make sure that you read the contract carefully before signing it. For example, it would be wise to mull over a clause that prohibits you from taking on an independent contract with a practice to which the agency introduced you. Unless you don’t plan to stay in the area for a very long time, such a clause can limit the number of practices you can work with once you decide working with a locum agency isn’t the right choice for you.
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The Pros of Working with a Locum Agency
- You are freed from doing administrative tasks. When working with a locum agency, you are essentially the agency’s independent contractor. Practices pay the agency for your work and then the agency pays you the agreed amount or a percentage of the total. The amount left to the agency covers the paperwork and other expenses involved. If the main reason you started working as a locum GP is the need for better work-life balance, this really is a great reason to work with a locum agency.
- You don’t need to look for work. One of the most troublesome responsibilities of a locum doctor is going out and marketing yourself to prospective clients. We came up with a guide on personal branding for locum GPs to help you on this. But if you’re someone who hates self-promotion, working with a locum agency is the best way to go. The agency will find you the work that you need.
- You’re still paid the prevailing rate. While many believe that working with a locum agency means less money, it’s not always the case. Some practices offer low rates for locum doctors and if you were working independently, you’d have to negotiate with them to get the rate that you deserve. Agencies, on the other hand, have established rates that they don’t need to negotiate with practices.
- You’ll get help and support. Locum agencies have a reputation that they need to keep squeaky clean if they want to stay in business. Because of this, they do their best to make their members the best in the field. Some may offer training and advice. CaregiverAsia, for example, offers a lot of helpful advice in many areas of locum work through their blog and getting additional assistance is as easy as dialing +65 6258 6683.
There are agencies like CaregiverAsia that are managed for and by health professionals. This means that these agencies have the empathy towards locum GPs like you who are in need of work. Apart from that, they also have the necessary expertise and experience that will make your locum experience so much better than your days as a salaried GP.
Remember, working with a locum agency is not at all bad if you work with an agency that can give you enough freedom while also taking the burden of organizing your business off your already tired shoulders.
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