Getting paid to travel brings to mind an exciting, once in a lifetime adventure. And in some respects, working locum tenens can be that. However, it has its ups and downs. Based on my experience working locum tenens for one year, here are some of the pros and cons that I found.


1. Travel

The obvious first advantage is travel. Not only seeing new places, but experiencing them in a way you can’t when just visiting as a tourist. There are options to work on the other side of the country, or one county over. This can also be a good way to get a feel for an area you may want to live.

2. “Try it before you buy it”

Not only can you test out a geographic area, but also the clinic you may want to work. Some locum positions provide temporary coverage for a permanent position they are trying to fill. In those cases, if it’s a good fit, you could go on to work there permanently.

3. Income

Many locum assignments will pay for lodging and travel, in addition to the base salary. Usually the salary is comparable to the norm for that position and location. This can lead to overall greater net income!

4. Flexibility

When working temporary assignments, you can take time off in between, and the length of that time off is up to you! Sometimes there’s also flexibility on the length of an assignment, such as a 6-month minimum with potential to extend to one year. And if doing locums full-time isn’t a good fit, moonlighting as a locum some place nearby could also be possible.


1. Limited job choices

The area you want to work, may not have locum jobs for you. Also, most places want you to already have a state license, as licensing can be a lengthy process.

2. Future uncertainty

If working locum tenens full time, you will be repeatedly applying for new jobs to get your next locum assignment. This means doing the whole process of applying, interviewing, and starting new over and over again. For very short contracts, you could spend almost half the time there looking for your next one. This of course doesn’t apply if doing locums as a second job for extra income.

3. Constant change

Besides the changing clinics, EMRs, and co-workers, there is also the changing lodging. This can mean staying in hotels, or other temporary housing that may not be as comfortable or spacious as your own home. Hobbies tied to a place, or things, like gardening or cooking, can also be difficult.

Overall, I think locum tenens is ideal for those without kids, who are very adaptable, and are looking a new experience, place, or just some extra income!

About the Author

Kathryn Martin PA-C 

Kathryn graduated from Central Michigan University in 2015, and has a strong background in Family Medicine as well as Urgent Care.