Published in the May 2013 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
EVERYONE THINKS that hospitalists working locum make lots of money, but is that true? According to the 2012 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, full-time adult hospitalists who reported working some locum shifts earned less than doctors who didn’t. But they also worked fewer shifts. Here’s a look at the data.
About 11% of full-time adult hospitalists report doing some locum work, but only 8% of those said a locums agency was their primary employer. That means that more than 90% of doctors working some locums were permanently employed elsewhere.
Among full-time adult hospitalists, those working some locum in the previous year made about $10,000 less than colleagues who reported income from only their full-time job. Those working some locum reported a mean of $224,800 vs. $235,800 for those not working locum at all.
Shifts and hours
But focusing only on income may miss the point. One big benefit of working some locum is being able to choose how often you work. That is borne out by the number of shifts and hours that hospitalists who do some locum say they work. They reported working about 16 shifts a month, compared to 17 shifts among hospitalists working only a full-time job.
Hospitalists working some locums similarly reported about 10% fewer hours per month than physicians working only full-time jobs (179 hours vs. 188). Hospitalists working some locum did, however, tend to work the same number of weekends.
Who works locum?
Our survey found that hospitalists working locum shared the following characteristics:
- Of hospitalists who worked locum, 84% were men.
- Many are family physicians. While 18% of family medicine-trained hospitalists reported working locum, only 12% of general internal medicine-trained hospitalists took locum assignments.
- They are more likely to have worked fewer years as a hospitalist. Among respondents who have worked as a hospitalist for less than two years, 12% reported taking locum shifts compared to only 7% of those working 11 years or more.