The Beyond the Practice Series has been created to give you an insight and advantage into the professional side of anesthesia through interviews conducted with leaders in the industry. In this interview, Senior Recruiting Consultant and Key Contributor: Robert Moore discusses some key aspects for you to considered when starting your anesthesia locum tenens career.
BagMask: What exactly does it mean to be a 1099 contractor?
Robert: A 1099 contractor is different than a W-2 employee in that you are actually contracting your services to a facility either through an agency or by representing yourself.
BagMask: Why would an anesthesia provider want to work as a 1099 vs W-2?
Robert: Well, there are many different advantages to it. Flexible schedules and keeping more of the money you earn, meaning that there are many tax benefits. As an example travel, lodging, ACLS and BLS training could be written off as a business expense and save you money in the end. So to recap, you get to keep more of your money and don’t have to worry about the politics or restrictions to take off when you want or work as much as you want. These are some of the great benefits of being a 1099 contractor.
BagMask: You said that some providers decide to represent themselves, but I would imagine for some having an anesthesia recruiter would be a little more helpful in finding opportunities. What qualities should someone look for in a recruiter to provide the best services to make sure they always have an anesthesia job opportunity out there?
Robert: The best recruiters are the ones that are doing more listening than talking. It’s more about you as the anesthesia provider and what you’re looking for in the assignment. That way, I will be able to match you up to the assignments that we currently have and the one you would prefer. So it’s definitely a recruiter that’s listening to what your interests are, as well as making sure that you’re going to be happy on the assignment. So that’s what sets a good recruiter apart from others. It’s all about you.
BagMask: Alright. So that’s one person you should have on your team when you’re looking for a locums job. Is there anyone else you should have on your team?
Robert: Yes. Work with a good financial planner or an accountant as they can recommend the best way to write off many expenses. A good financial planner is one that you want to talk to when it comes retirement planning and understanding how to use those plans to alleviate some taxation. Being a 1099 contractor, you are not part of the company’s 401k retirement plan. You can now set up a self-directed retirement plan which has its advantages because you’re able to put much more money away than you could have as a W-2 employee. A financial planner can help you through that, as well as also discussing the advantages of incorporating. Because when working as locums, you want to consider incorporating to help alleviate your taxes.
BagMask: What does it mean to incorporate yourself?
Robert: When you incorporate yourself, you can do it in a couple of different ways. I’m able to speak a little bit at length about this outside of being a recruiter and more as a consultant. I worked as a realtor for quite a while and I still hold my license. And as a realtor, you are a contractor, so what happened is I incorporated to alleviate my tax burden. So there’s a couple of different ways to do that.
You can do it as an S corp, also known as an S corporation,which allows you to take a salary from the corporation versus receiving that money in a lump total. This also helps to alleviate your tax burden when you it comes to writing off business expenses, whether it be mileage, scrubs or if you need to buy a new stethoscope. Anything that you’re buying for your business when you’re incorporated now becomes a write-off to help keep more of your money versus paying it to Uncle Sam.
Another option you can do is create an LLC. An LLC offers tax benefits and also offers different advantages. So talk with a financial planner or a CPA to help you in understanding whether an S corp or an LLC is the best plan for you as an individual.
BagMask: Out of curiosity, is locum tenens only for experienced anesthesia providers or can individuals straight out of residency or a CRNA or AA program work as a locum?
Robert: Absolutely. While most facilities and companies are going to say they want the experienced anesthesia provider for the locum tenens job, new providers can, in the right circumstance, fill the spot. And I’ve done this for a couple of anesthetists that were only 3 to 4 months out of school. Now, last year of clinicals, especially during your OB or ortho rotations, keep up to date on your case logs. They can help me sell your experience to the chief at the facility to get them to at least consider you for locum.
And as an experienced anesthesiologist once told me, if he had it to do over again, “I would do locums first before choosing my permanent assignment because locums tenens affords you the ability to try out the facility, see the surgeons, see the facility to be sure it’s going to be a good fit before signing on to that employment contract of 2 years or 3 years.” So locums will give you that ability and then you can transition from locum to permanent.
BagMask: So if you do find that position that you really want to transition to as a full-time employee, is there anything different about going from locum to a full-time position versus just coming off the street as a job seeker and applying to the job?
Robert: Well, it’s definitely easy. By working as a locum with my agency – or any others representing you on an assignment – just letting the recruiter know that, “Hey, you know, I love it here and I do want to transition to a perm,” and they will work with the facility to try and make it happen. Especially with my group, it is easier because Envision is the parent company of TIVA and the transition from locums jobs at an Envision facility to perm is super smooth. So, it’s very easy for us to make it happen.
BagMask: Is there any expert advice you can pass along to those looking to do locums or are already out there working as an independent contractor?
Robert: Well, the one I think is very valuable is for formatting their CV. It’s important that you format it in month and year. You want to have the beginning and ending month and year for education and employment experiences. It is crucial, especially, if you were working with different agencies and at different facilities during the same time period. This the formatting we expect to see as an anesthesia recruiter.
BagMask: Good information. So it sounds like you’ve worked with a lot of different people over the years, securing job opportunities for them. As you continue to do this, what is your hope for all the job seekers out there?
Robert: Well, my hope (and I’m only speaking from my own personal reason as to why I get up every day and do the job) is that I like helping my clinicians and knowing that I’ve put them in a position that they’re absolutely happy with. Sometimes that means referring them straight over to clinical recruitment in finding their position because they weren’t interested in locums. And that’s my end goal and hope – just making sure the anesthesia providers are happy in a position, whether it be working locums or finding that locums to permanent position.
Robert Moore |Senior Recruiting Consultant/Key Contributor