Locum tenens physicians routinely negotiate their compensation with staffing agencies and direct hire employers. Those new to the local lifestyle may find that negotiating pay is somewhat challenging given the diversity of pay between assignments. So how does someone new to locum work determine how much to ask for?

Figuring out what you’re worth as a locum is a multi-step process. And even after that process is mastered, experience is a lifelong teacher that makes it easier to determine pay rates the longer one works as a locum. With that in mind, there are a few suggestions listed below that you might find helpful in figuring out how much you are worth.

Check Salary Statistics

A good place to start is to check salary statistics for your particular specialty. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a gold mine for this sort of information. The BLS website offers detailed information on specific specialties, regional pay rates, the total number of jobs available, and more.

Armed with that information, you can do some research to determine how pay differs between permanently placed clinicians and those who work as locums. The general rule suggests that locums earned between 30% and 50% more, but that has to be offset by some of the extra expenses that locums pay.

Speak with Your Colleagues

Are there some colleagues within your sphere of influence with previous locum experience? If so, they are another great resource for determining your worth. Ask them what they routinely received in compensation. Find out what parts of the country they found most financially lucrative. Ask which staffing agencies worked the hardest to meet salary requirements.

In the absence of such colleagues, ask your staffing agencies for references from other clinicians. A few phone calls or e-mails should produce the kind of information you need to know.

Make Use of Forums

Another avenue for researching how much you are worth is the physician forum. Look for forums dedicated to locum tenens work so that you are not having to filter comments from clinicians who have never done the locum thing. You want to hear from those with genuine experience.

The best way to go about this is to post a question. The key is to be very specific. Your question should detail the type of assignment you are considering, its geographic location, its length, and any other factors that might go into determining your pay.

Be aware that forums are pretty open. That means some of your answers may come from people who have nothing to do with locum tenens medicine. It may take some practice before you can quickly weed out unhelpful answers. Along those same lines, do not get involved in online debates. If someone in your thread attempts to start a debate, just scroll on.

Let Your Work Be Your Spokesperson

Locum tenens work is similar to most other forms of employment in that you usually have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Someone brand-new to the locum industry may not be able to command the highest possible pay for a given assignment. The highest pay rates often have to be earned over time. So how do you do that? You let your work be your spokesperson.

Treat every new contract as an opportunity to showcase why you deserve higher pay. Be the best possible clinician you can be regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Once staffing agencies and hiring facilities see how valuable an asset you are, they will be more willing to offer higher pay.