Physician Interview: Working locum tenens for the first time

We recently had a virtual sit-down with Dr. Joan Pellegrini and Dr. Rip Patel to talk about their experiences as part-time and full-time locum tenens. If you missed the live interview you can view it here.

During the interview we took live questions, unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t get to respond to them all. We followed up with Dr. Patel and Dr. Pellegrini and their responses to the missed questions are below:

  • Does the locums assignment or agency update your DEA to whatever state you are working in?
    • Dr. Patel – “Usually they assist in ‘transferring’ a DEA to different states, or can assist you in getting an entirely new DEA all together, and often cover that cost.”
    • Dr. Pellegrini – “The locum company can update the DEA (you would have to sign a limited POA for them to do it).  However, it is quite simple to do and I prefer to be able to keep track of my own DEAs and so I do it myself.”
  • Would you advise first opening your company/practice and then begin locums work?
    • Dr. Pellegrini – “I know that many residents/fellows will take a locums assignment prior to deciding where to take a permanent job.  However, I feel it is best if one were to gain experience under a mentor first.  None the less, I have heard good arguments for both.”
    • Dr. Patel – “I think so, locums may not be for everyone, so having something stable while you try it out to see if it is the right fit and how it can enhance your life is always a more secure way to begin, especially if things dry out at your first assignment.”
  • Do you restrict the geographic locations you work in or are you willing to go anywhere?
    • Dr. Patel – “Initially I would go anywhere, vacation spots, good hiking, underserved areas. These days, as I get older, I like to minimize travel time if possible. So direct flights and nearby states such as Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri (with me being in Texas) have worked out really well.”
    • Dr. Pellegrini – “I do not limit myself.  I am willing to travel a long ways if it is a really good assignment.  That said, there are a few states I avoid because licensing can be such a PITA (ie California and Florida).”

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