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2022 locum tenens pay trends: Who’s up and who’s down

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One reason many physicians turn to locum tenens is the great pay. Whether you’re working locums on the side or you’ve made it your full-time career, locum tenens physicians in the U.S. often earn more per hour than their employed counterparts. And with demand rebounding across many physician specialties, here’s the latest in locum tenens physician pay trends for 2022.

Most locum tenens specialties trending upward in 2022

There are many reasons for the rebound in demand and compensation in 2022: patients are less cautious about seeking care, there’s still a backlog of non-emergent procedures in many specialty areas, and there’s high demand for physicians who provide inpatient care.

Specialties that saw the largest increases in locum tenens compensation were emergency medicine and orthopedic surgery. Other specialties are also seeing high demand, such as anesthesiology, neurological surgery, pediatric anesthesiology, and urology. Here are the locum tenens pay trends for a few of the top specialties.

Anesthesiology

This specialty saw a big jump in locum tenens compensation during the pandemic. However, anesthesiologist pay leveled off in 2022 at $238-$275 hourly. A typical shift is 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., and assignments average 20 days.

Cardiac surgery

Locum tenens compensation for cardiac surgeons is $2,000-$2,500 daily — the same as in 2021. That said, there is an extremely high demand for this top-paying specialty, so locum tenens cardiac surgeons can often choose  when and where they want to work. The typical locums schedule is a 24-hour call shift, and these are often available as long-term assignments.

Cardiovascular diseases

This specialty saw a jump from $125-200 in 2021 to $175-200 hourly in 2022. Physicians specializing in cardiovascular diseases are typically in very high demand. Going into 2022, there are more long-term locum tenens jobs available than we’ve seen in a while. Assignments are typically Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., with invasive being about a week and non-invasive running two to three months.

Critical care medicine

Pay for critical care medicine is at $225-$275 hourly — about the same as in 2021. The good news is that this specialty is in high demand with a very strong locum tenens job market.

Emergency medicine

While the pandemic negatively affected locum tenens pay for emergency medicine physicians in 2020 and 2021, locum tenens pay has rebounded to $100-$300 per hour in 2022. The other good news is that locum EM physicians are back in high demand, as emergency department volumes have rebounded in the past year. Assignments are usually 12- or 24-hour shifts, from four to six months in length.

Family medicine

While locum pay for family medicine physicians has stayed about the same in 2022 at $90-$125 per hour, it’s a very good job market with lots of open jobs. Assignments are typically Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (with some call), and they average two to six months in duration.

Gastroenterology

This specialty pays $1,800-$2,000 daily, about the same as in 2021. But it’s also one of the highest-paying specialties. Demand has rebounded in 2022 as well, with many healthcare organizations working to catch up on delayed procedures. A typical locums schedule is 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or seven-on seven-off, with assignments averaging about two weeks in length.

General surgery

While pay remains about the same at $1,000-$1,400 hourly, demand has jumped in 2022. That’s good news for general surgeons, because locum opportunities are available in a wide variety of locations.

Internal medicine

Pay for internal medicine physicians increased from $135-$180 in 2021 to $140-$190 in 2022. IM physicians who work as hospitalists are in especially high demand, with nocturnist positions paying the most. A typical locums schedule is 12-hour shifts on seven-day rotations with assignments averaging three to six months.

Interventional cardiology

This high-paying specialty went up in compensation from $1,800-$2,200 daily in 2021 to $2,200-2,500 daily in 2022. Interventional cardiologists are in high demand as locums. Assignments are often 24-hour call from five to seven days in length.

Neurological surgery

While pay remains the about same in 2022 at $2,000-2,500 daily (for stroke, up to $5000 daily), demand has spiked due to an extreme physician shortage in this specialty. Assignments are typically 24-hour call with options for shift work long-term.

Neurology

Compensation for locum neurologists stayed the same in 2022 at $1,400-$1,600. However, demand for neurologists continues to remain high. Locum tenens neurology assignments are typically Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (with call) and average about a week in length.

Obstetrics & gynecology (OB/GYN)

Locum tenens compensation for this specialty remains steady at $100-$140 per hour, but demand increased this year. Typical locum OB/GYN hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. with call time. Average assignment length is three to six months.

Orthopedic surgery

Pay for locum tenens orthopedic surgeons increased from $1,000-$1,400 daily in 2021 to $1,200-$1,500 daily in 2022. With the resumption of elective surgeries, demand for orthopedic surgeons is very high. Assignments are typically six-day shifts averaging one to three months in duration.

Pediatric anesthesiology

This specialty saw a big jump in locum pay from $238-$275 hourly in 2021 to $263-$313 hourly in 2022. Pediatric anesthesiologists are in especially high demand, with the number of open jobs tripling in the past year. Typical locums hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. with assignments lasting about 20 days.

Physical medicine & rehabilitation

PM&R physicians saw a big jump in locum pay from $125-175 hourly in 2021 to $125-$190 hourly in 2022. Demand is moderate but there are plenty of jobs available. Typical locums hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. with call time. Average assignment length is one week.

Urology

Locum tenens urologists saw a jump in compensation from $1,100-$1,500 daily in 2021 to $1,500-$1,800 daily in 2022. Urologists are in high demand due to a severe physician shortage. Typical locums hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. but night call and 24-hour shifts are also options. Average assignment length is two weeks to six months.

Vascular/interventional radiology

This specialty saw a substantial increase in compensation from $200-$250 hourly in 2021 to $250-$325 hourly in 2022. Demand is moderate but consistent for locum physicians in this specialty. Typical locums hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. with call time. Average assignment length is one to three months.

Vascular surgery

This specialty is experiencing a significant shortage of physicians, resulting in very high demand for locum physicians. It is also one of the highest paying locum specialties at $1,700-$2,200 daily in 2022. Schedules are typical office hours and average a week in length.

To sum it up, locum pay is increasing in 2022 for nearly every physician specialty, and locum tenens physicians continue to be in high demand across the country.

Not seeing your specialty listed here? Check out our Trends by Specialty tool for locum tenens pay ranges for additional specialties.

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