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'Temp doctors' choose career for flexibility, easier lifestyle

nt to work 50 to 70 hours a week, or don't want to be on call," Alonzo said. "Some doctors choose LT assignments in which they can limit the number of hours they work and are on call."

For men surveyed, the top reason for being a locum tenens was the ability to work part-time (mentioned by 38 percent). Many of these were older physicians who were transitioning into retirement, he said.

Some doctors may want schedule flexibility to spend more time with children, but that wasn't an issue with most doctors surveyed only about 28 percent said they had a dependent child or parent in their home.

In addition to schedule flexibility and the ability to work part-time, the other top reasons for choosing LT work was to increase income (15.5 percent), to travel (9.5 percent) and to experience a different practice setting (9 percent).

About 3 percent said their main reason was to be free from administrative responsibilities.

"It wasn't a dominant focus, but some physicians don't want to deal with insurance companies, reimbursements, and all the office management hassles that come when you run your own practice," Alonzo said. "You certainly reduce these hassles when you're a practicing locum tenens physician."

While temporary employees may have negative connotations in some professions, the results suggest LT physicians have more training than average. The survey found 85 percent of the LT sample was board-certified meaning they met objective measures of training and competence in specific fields. That compares to about 65 percent of active U.S. physicians who are board-certified.

"LT physicians tend to be very well-trained and that means patients are going to get good care from them," he said.

Alonzo said it was significant that a third of doctors surveyed planned to make LT a permanent career choice. This means they will be going from assignment to assignment with no intention of remaining in one place for long.
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Contact: Angelo Alonzo
Alonzo.1@osu.edu
614-292-6616
Ohio State University
11-Jan-2005


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