Locum Tenens Practice Settings: Your Guide to Where Locums Work

Whether you are a recent medical school graduate or fellow just starting out, or you’re on the other end of the spectrum and contemplating retirement, locum tenens work could be the ideal match for your medical career. 

These short-term assignments allow physicians and advanced practitioners of all specialties to explore different locum tenens practice settings and enjoy freedom, flexibility and professional fulfillment. Want to work in a large teaching hospital, a busy trauma center, a quiet pediatric practice or a specialized clinic? All of these are possible with a locum tenens job.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of locum tenens practice settings and health care jobs that are available throughout the United States.

What is locum tenens? 

Common locum tenens practice settings


At the beginning of 2021, the American Hospital Association reported that there were 6,090 hospitals operating in the United States. Hospitals provide locum tenens with the opportunity to work in a fast-paced setting and share knowledge and best practices with many different types of clinicians.  

The length of a locum tenens contract in the hospital setting can vary depending on the need. Average locum tenens assignments for hospitals can be anywhere from a few weeks to several months or longer. Assignments tend to be longer, or are more likely to be extended, if the facility is seeking to hire a hospitalist or other permanent physician and the executive team is having trouble finding the right person.

Hospitals provide employment options in both inpatient and outpatient settings. They also provide variety for locums when it comes to patient populations, demographics, census levels, types of specialties and more. If you are eager to learn new technologies and stay on the cutting-edge of industry developments, consider a locum tenens assignment at a teaching facility.

Private practices

Working with a private physician group opens up a number of locum tenens practice setting options, ranging from family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine to psychiatry and a variety of medical specialties. 

In Staff Care’s recent
2020 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, researchers found that facilities and practices primarily hire locum tenens to fill in until permanent doctors and advanced practitioners are found, or to address staff turnover. Locum practitioners are also used to cover for staff vacations or continuing medical education courses, meet rising patient demand, and provide flexible staffing options during peak usage times and special projects.

Private practices are known to provide locum tenens professionals with more autonomy and financial rewards than some other practice settings, which is something to keep in mind when evaluating potential locum assignments.

Urgent care facilities

Urgent care facilities have been seeing increased usage and patient census throughout the pandemic as many people avoid the emergency room at their local hospitals. Even before the pandemic, data from The Urgent Care Association noted that there were 9,616 urgent care centers in the United States as of November 2019, a 9.6 percent jump from the previous year.

These types of locum tenens practice settings provide opportunities for physicians to utilize the breadth of their skill set as they provide care to patients with a variety of presenting conditions.

Surgery centers

According to Staff Care’s 2020 report, 21 percent of healthcare managers reported using locum tenens surgeons in 2019 compared to 10.8 percent in 2016 and 22 percent reported using locum tenens anesthesiologists, compared to 10.8 percent in 2016.

Many ambulatory surgery centers offer desirable schedules and flexibility for surgeons and other health care practitioners -- especially those tired of late-night and off-hours shifts. Most surgery centers operate on regular business hours with few emergencies, allowing locum tenens providers to enjoy excellent work–life balance.

Rural communities and more

While locum providers can work in any and every type of community, locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners have the opportunity to make a major impact in rural settings, as access to quality care is still lacking in many more remote parts of our country.  

“In addition to an emerging physician shortage, there is a long-standing maldistribution of physicians in the U.S., with fewer doctors practicing in rural and inner city areas,” Staff Care’s 2020 report found. In fact, as of December 31, 2020, there were
7,290 Health Care Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for primary care nationwide, as identified by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). These are areas with less than one primary care physician per 3,500 people, or less than one primary care physician per 3,000 people in designated “high need” areas.  

Are you interested in a locum tenens practice setting that didn’t make it on this list? Reach out to one of our recruitment consultants to learn more about where locums tenens work and the many options available to locum providers.

has hundreds of locum tenens health care jobs to choose from throughout the U.S.

Contact a Recruiter Now

We'd Love to Hear From You!

Give us a call at 800.685.2272

Copyright © 2014 Staff Care