If you are a medical professional considering freelance work, then you may know that the medical world welcomes you to a wide variety of opportunities. Freelance work, otherwise known as locums, travelers, per diem or 1099 work, means that you are putting yourself and your talent out in the medical arena for any position you’re credentialed to work. You have the freedom to decide where, when and how long you want to work. Because these are not permanent contracts, the rate of pay can also be much higher.
If you work for a hospital and you are picking up extra work shifts to make extra money, you are not a freelancer, but you are showing others that you want more work. More work means more money, but also shows you are not willing to settle for what everyone else is willing to settle for.
When thinking about looking for freelance work, here are some things to consider.
- Are you married? Do you have children? If so, working as a freelancer may take additional planning. You will want to ensure your spouse or partner is aware of your desire to work as a freelancer outside your present work environment and will be supportive of this decision. You’ll want to discuss how your free time and availability will be limited at times because of your work.
- Where do you want to work? Will you be traveling or working locally?
- If you are traveling, where will you live? What do you want to do in your free time? Will your family move with you? Do you have pets? In what states is your current license valid?
- Have you planned for the extra money you’ll be making and what you’ll do with it?
- How will you handle taxes? Will you be using a CPA or another tax professional? If you are doing your own income taxes, you will want to have a good working knowledge of taxes. Often a good CPA is worth their weight in gold as their expertise cannot not only save you money, but give you peace of mind with the IRS. For example, if you live in one state and work in another, not only will you have to pay tax in the state you live, but you must file a tax return for each state that you work in and a CPA can help you with this.
- Do you want to incorporate your business? There are many options, including C-Corp, S-Corp and LLC. This is another item a CPA can advise.
- Are you good at what you do? This is one of the biggest considerations. You may want to be a freelancer, but if you throw yourself out into the medical world and you are not good at your profession, you will end up dying a slow death, working like most people for the same hospital making what the hospital is wanting to pay you. Don’t just be good at what you do, be better than your colleagues. Your reputation is as good as gold. A positive work and people attitude is also a key ingredient that you must have. A poor work and people attitude will kill your career almost as fast as not being good at what you do.
To apply for freelance work, contact other hospitals, surgery centers, doctors offices and even locum agencies. It may be slow going at first and it could be a couple of months before organizations learn of your willingness to work as a freelancer, but work will come. Be sure to have an updated resume highlighting your background, including credentials, certifications and work requirements. Ask former colleagues and managers you trust to provide references attesting to your experience and work performance.
There is much to consider when choosing to freelance, but it can be a great option to pursue. Good luck!