Locum Tenens: A Guide to Avoiding Traps and Finding the Best Assignments

Locum Tenens Guide

Locum tenens can be an excellent opportunity for anesthesia providers who want to gain new experiences, expand their skill sets, or work in different locations. But let’s be honest, it’s a great way to earn extra income, as locum tenens assignments often pay higher rates than permanent positions.

However, not all anesthesia locum tenens opportunities are created equal. Some can be traps that leave providers feeling exploited, frustrated, and even cheated. To avoid these pitfalls and find the best assignments, providers need to be diligent and proactive in their search.

In this guide, we’ll explore some common locum tenens traps and provide tips on how to avoid them. We’ll also share strategies for finding the best assignments and getting the most out of the locum tenens experience.

Common Locum Tenens Traps

Reduced Hourly Rates

One of the most common locum tenens traps is a reduction in hourly rates after the provider has started working. This can happen when the staffing agency renegotiates the contract with the healthcare facility or when the facility decides to cut costs.

To avoid this scenario, ask the company for references of people who have worked with the agency in the past before signing a contract.

Ask the references about their experiences with the company, such as whether they are paid on time. Have they ever cut your rate or not followed through on a contracted promise?

Also, don’t be afraid to ask the locums agency about the possibility of rate reductions and how they will be notified if such changes occur. And always get everything in writing, especially the offered hourly rate.

Reduced Stipends

Another trap that locum tenens providers may encounter is a reduction in stipends, such as living or travel stipends. One CRNA reported that the day before the assignment, the agency told them they were reducing the living stipend! It’s a terrible position to be put in.

This can happen for the same reasons as reduced hourly rates, and it can significantly impact the provider’s income. Ask about all stipends and get them in writing. Inquire about the possibility of stipend reductions and how the anesthesia staffing agency handles them.

Misleading Job Descriptions

Some anesthesia staffing agencies may misrepresent the job description to entice providers to accept an assignment. For example, they may promise specific types of cases or schedules, only to find that the reality is very different.

To avoid this trap, make sure to ask for references from providers who have worked at the facility before and reach out to them to confirm the accuracy of the job description. A good anesthesia group can also set up a call with the site leadership to discuss expectations.

Don’t Be Set Up To Fail

Locum tenens providers are often working in unfamiliar environments with new colleagues and patients. This can be challenging, especially if the staffing agency or healthcare facility does not provide adequate support.

In your preliminary discussion, ask about the support you’ll receive before accepting an assignment. Is there an orientation, training, and/or mentorship opportunity? Lastly, ask about the availability of administrative and clinical support during the assignment, not only from the anesthesia group you’ll be working with but also from the locums agency.

Strategies for Finding the Best Assignments

Research Staffing Agencies

The first step in finding the best locum tenens assignments is to research staffing agencies. Not all agencies are created equal, and some have better reputations than others. Look for agencies that have a track record of placing providers in high-quality assignments and providing excellent support.

Network with Colleagues

A great way to find locum tenens assignments is through networking with colleagues. Friends who have worked locum tenens assignments in the past are great resources. Tap them for recommendations on staffing agencies and facilities they enjoyed.

Connect with the Recruiter

Not just on the phone, but relationship-wise. A great recruiter has your best interest at heart. Look for a recruiter who is attentive, responds in a timely manner, is trying to get to know you and not trying to force you to look at jobs you’re not interested in.

Attend Job Fairs and Conferences

Attending job fairs and conferences can also be a great way to find locum tenens assignments. These events bring together healthcare providers and staffing agencies, providing an opportunity to meet with recruiters and learn about available assignments.

Utilize Locum Tenens Job Boards

Anesthesia job boards are another great resource for finding assignments. These online platforms list locum tenens jobs from staffing agencies and healthcare facilities across the country. Providers can search for assignments based on their specialty, location, and other criteria. Obviously, we’re only going to suggest one job board…

Still need a hint?


Getting the Most Out of the Locum Tenens Experience

Locum tenens can be a rewarding and enriching experience for healthcare providers, but it can also be challenging. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of the locum tenens experience:

Be Open-Minded

Locum tenens assignments can take providers to new locations, facilities, and patient populations. Being open-minded and willing to learn can help you get the most out of these experiences and expand your knowledge and skills.

Be Flexible

Assignments can sometimes be unpredictable, and you may be asked to work different shifts, take on different responsibilities, or adjust your practice to fit the facility’s needs. Being flexible and adaptable can help you succeed in these dynamic environments.

Build Relationships

Although a temporary assignment, the relationships that providers build can last a lifetime. Take the time to get to know your colleagues, patients, and support staff, and foster these relationships throughout the assignment. You never know. You could end up finding a place to settle down for a while or come back to down the road.

Document Everything

Providers should keep detailed records of their assignments, including their schedules, responsibilities, and any changes to their pay or stipends. These records can be helpful in case of any disputes or discrepancies.

Take Time for Self-Care

Depending on the setting, a locums job can be demanding, and providers may be working in high-stress environments. Taking time for self-care, such as exercise, meditation, or socializing, can help you manage your stress and maintain your well-being.


Locum tenens can be an excellent opportunity for anesthesia providers, offering new experiences, skills, and income. However, not all locum tenens opportunities are created equal, and providers need to be diligent and proactive in their search.

To avoid common locum tenens traps, providers should research staffing agencies, network with colleagues, attend job fairs and conferences, and utilize locum tenens job boards. Providers should also be open-minded, flexible, and focused on building relationships and taking care of themselves throughout the assignment.

By following these tips, healthcare providers can find the best anesthesia locum tenens assignments and get the most out of the experience.

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