FAQ

I’m a new grad can I do this?

Being an IC was not my first position out of school so I cannot comment based on first hand experience. However, it is my understanding that it is a bit more difficult to get a position because most places are looking to fill a vacancy that someone can slide into with relative ease.  That being said, if you are a bit more flexible with positions/specialties and areas of the country you would work in it is possible. One consideration when you think “well hell I don’t want to work a crappy job I don’t like for 3 months”.  There is an up side. First, you’re putting experience on your resume. Second, you’re probably making more than anyone in your graduating class. Third, subsequent positions will be easier to attain. Lastly, if you like a challenge this would be a good one!

Where will I live?

There are also various potential answers to this question. Know that f you are working for a good company it will all be taken care of and you won’t be dropping a dime for lodging. Potential options are extended stay hotels and short term furnished apartments.

How will I cook and eat?

For real though. This concern was at the top of my list. Mostly because I love food. I will say that currently I am living somewhere that I have no kitchen. >WHAT<. For this assignment it was either live close to work (4 miles) or 40 miles. Because I have a dog I needed a dog friendly hotel and that was my compromise because my dog is my child :). So what the #^*! do I do for food?  When I don’t have a kitchen and I cannot meal prep I order pre-made meals from http://www.iconmeals.com. They are absolutely amazing!!!! Voice from the back “Isn’t that expensive?”  Yes. On average it costs me $200.00/week. However, because I am working away from home I will be able to partially write is off on my taxes.

I have a dog, can I bring Fido?

Of course! This was a deal breaker for me if Piper couldn’t come!

What if I want to keep my apartment/house where I live, won’t that be expensive?

Of course you can do that. Because you won’t be paying for your lodging related to your job you technically won’t be out any money.

What about malpractice insurance?

Taken care of by your locum’s company. But make sure to save copies of ALL your malpractice insurance because you will need to demonstrate proof that you have been continually covered.  Again, I have a folder dedicated to this stuff.  SO. MANY. FILE. FOLDERS.

How do I get credentialed and how is the credentialing process?

This should be a breeze for you.  If you are working for a reputable company (www.nalto.org) everything should be sent to you with sticky notes that say “sign here” and drop the fed ex folder off and call it a day.  Credentialing with a locum company was exponentially easier than the permanent position I took immediately out of school. Your cost should be $0.

If I go to a different state who pays for my state license?

If for any reason you front the bill for a license your company should reimburse you immediately (as in your next pay check).

DISCLAIMER: Do not let someone tell you that if they pay for your state license that you may only work through them– this is false, you are being bullied and you should steer far away from that recruiter and company immediately (this happened to me).

What company should I work with?

This is a completely independent decision.  I do recommend choosing from a company that belongs to NALTO (National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations).  The reason being that it is like the BBB (better business bureau for traveling docs and PA’s).  It protects you and the organization you are working for to receive fair treatment.  If you want personal guidance regarding this please e-mail me at: all.things.pac@gmail.com

Will I have benefits as an IC?

As previously mentioned I did not lift a finger through the credentialing process–which was a huge plus.  In addition, traveling and seeing different areas of the country.  Generally speaking, the pay is better than permanent positions. Speaking from personal experience I can say this is definitely true.

Most companies do not offer medical, dental, vision or 401k benefits.  The only company I have come across that does is Comp Health.  I have not worked for them personally, but the recruiters I spoke with were really friendly and aggressive about finding me work.  I would definitely seek employment with them in the future if it worked out.  But, I also presently really like the recruiter I am working with through VISTA staffing.

Anyways, so although you do not get those benefits, anything related to your healthcare is a tax write off.

A lot of people worry about paying their own taxes.  See below for more information.

What in the world do I do about my taxes?

So, I’m going to go ahead and put it out there that the first thing I did was find a CPA.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who works for one and I spoke with him and really liked him.  The cost per year is $400 and you file every quarter.  This is average cost for someone to do your taxes from my knowledge and shopping around.  A lot of people also worry about “paying a lot of taxes”  I get it.  I was too.  I did a lot of research on this, because I was afraid of paying a ton of money in taxes.  From talking to different IC’s I learned that if you write your taxes off appropriately you will likely pay less percent. Disclaimer: I haven’t filed taxes yet–so we will see how it goes.

UPDATE: My tax payment this year will be almost exactly 30% of my paychecks (WOOF!) But, I still made far more than I would have made right out of school in a permanent position.

What types of expenses can I write off and how do I go about showing proof?

CME related expenses

  • Anything related to maintaining your license that your company does not pay for.  Here are some of the things I wrote off this year:
    • HIPPO Education Podcast
    • UpToDate annual membership
    • CME Conferences
      • Lodging
      • Meals
      • Uber/Lyft/Taxi Rides to airport
      • Basically anything you spend while “at the conference”
      • If you travel and are in the area of a conference to network, that can also be written off even if you don’t pay to attend the conference.

Licensure Maintenance

  • Bi-annual NCCPA fee
  • DEA (if not paid for by company)

Health Care

  • Monthly premium
  • Vision Exams
  • Dental cleanings or dental work

Phone/Internet

  • This is based on a percentage that you use your phone for business.  Your CPA can help determine a percentage with you

Misc. things you may not think of:

  • Kindle/iPad purchase (gotta read about medicine somewhere)
  • I don’t have laundry where I am currently housed and so I drop my laundry and pay for someone to do it for me.  That is considered a “cost of living” for my job.  Therefore I write it off!
  • Amazon prime.  Especially if you live somewhere where they don’t carry things you readily utilize. Hey– cost of doing the job
  • Food.  If you live in a hotel and have to order from a meal service like I did– or eat out– do it.
  • Scrubs
  • Shoes
  • Medical equipment (stethoscope, etc)
  • Any medical books you buy

What you cannot write off (unfortunately!)

  • Your company should reimburse travel miles, so nothing involving your car
  • I cannot write off expenses related to my dog– so because I had to pay to stay at a dog friendly hotel that cannot be considered a cost of doing my job because she is “optional”

I recommend finding a CPA that is aggressive, but also interested in keeping you from being audited.  Disclaimer: all of this information is from my experience and a guide to help you.  I am in no way a financial advisor or CPA.  These are simply things that took me a while to learn that will hopefully help someone out there.  But a good CPA is definitely a requirement and well worth the fee (about $400/year)