Locum physician? Read this.

If you think about it, doctors and nurses have access to a pretty cool gig economy. The ability to provide care in alternative settings through locum placements offers tremendous opportunities! 

These temporary placements at hospitals or medical practices have long been a part of the delivery of medical care. Now, they’re becoming increasingly common, with some physicians making the provision of locum care their primary career of choice. It’s no surprise that as most people continue to look for alternative ways to work other than returning to the office post-pandemic, doctors and nurses are also taking advantage of the chance to work in alternate capacities. 

Locums offer many great advantages. They give patients continuity of care within their communities, and eliminate gaps in coverage caused by parental leave or vacation absences. They can even fill spaces vacated by retiring physicians, or offer specialty coverage in remote locations.

Physicians can benefit from providing locum care as well. It enables physicians to experience different working environments before opening their own practice. This may allow you to witness various business models, while simultaneously reducing your own administrative burden, and build an extensive resume of experience. Locums also offer opportunities to travel or live elsewhere for a specific duration of time while continuing to earn an income.

What you might not have considered though is how locum placements can change your financial planning needs. That’s where an experienced accounting firm like MMT Chartered Professional Accountants can help. If you’re working in a locum environment or are considering expanding your medical care to fulfill locum positions, keep reading to find out what you need to know to keep your financial planning in order.

Tailored advice

Locum positions can make your finances more complicated. That’s why we recommend that you seek the advice of a skilled advisor like our accountants. We have extensive experience working with medical professionals in all aspects of their financial planning.

Temporary locum placements involve entering a legal contract. It’s imperative that you understand the conditions of the contract so that you can anticipate how they may impact your finances. For example, things like holiday pay, sick leave, and benefits enjoyed in some full-time placements may not be available for locum physicians.

Considerations like these make it essential to have a financial plan in place. That way, you’ll be assured of having the financial security net you need if your future circumstances change. It can be helpful to explore disability and life insurance options early, in the event that you become unable to work.

Reducing taxes

Self-employed locum physicians will also need to be more aware of their tax obligations. You may not have income tax deducted automatically, which means you’ll need to be prepared to pay back a significant lump sum during tax season. If you don’t want to incur unnecessary penalties or pay additional interest, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve planned accordingly to set aside enough money to cover this obligation. By creating a customized approach to your financial tax planning, an accountant can ensure that you are prepared for tax season while simultaneously working to reduce your overall tax burden.

Make sure you’re capitalizing on opportunities to access valuable tax deductions as well. Things like moving and living expenses, your vehicle and mileage, professional memberships and dues, and even insurance policies may all be considered. Your accountant can help you keep track and identify areas where you can reduce the taxes you pay.

Another area that an experienced accountant can assist you with is weighing the benefits of changing the structure of your practice. Because small business tax rates are lower than personal ones, incorporating may open up opportunities for additional tax savings. Making nuanced decisions with the guidance of an experienced advisor can pay dividends over the long run.

Detail oriented

Working locum placements also introduces other financial complications you may not have anticipated. If you’re working in multiple geographical locations, you might need a permit or license to practice in another province or territory, and may require additional insurance specific to the placement.

Outstanding student loans can also be reduced through government programs that offer some loan forgiveness. For instance, physicians or nurses filling locum placements in remote and underserved areas will want to be aware of Canada Student Loan forgiveness options, which you can read more about here.

Locums offer medical professionals flexibility in the way they practice, and serve an essential role in providing continuous, comprehensive care to patients. Make the most of your career as a locum physician by working with MMT Chartered Professional Accountants to ensure that you have the financial security you need, no matter where your medical practice takes you.

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