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6 Ways to Effectively Work with a Locum Tenens Recruiter

Locum tenens practitioners are in higher demand than ever. With a nationwide physician shortage, an aging population, and increased access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, healthcare organizations across the country are turning to locums staffing solutions. If you find yourself working with a locum tenens recruiter, we’ve got some top tips for helping that relationship to be effective for everyone involved.

1. Be Upfront

Whether you are fresh out of your residency or a seasoned professional, you are likely to have some understanding of what you are looking for in a placement and where your strengths and weaknesses are. Being upfront with your recruiter about your ideal placement, your experiences, and your utilization will help them find the best placements to suit your needs.

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Automation Creating Effective Contact Solutions in Healthcare

Ensuring patient satisfaction is a critical aspect of healthcare, but it is also time consuming. Automated solutions are helping physicians effectively communicate with patients.

Patient satisfaction is essential to the success of any healthcare practice. In a world where physicians experience extreme time constraints, ensuring the satisfaction of each patient can seem like an impossible task. Fortunately, healthcare companies are now creating solutions that allow practices to effectively communicate with patients without the stress of a time crunch.

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Learning EMR Systems as a Locum Tenens Worker

As a locum tenens worker you can expect to encounter new electronic medical records (EMR) or electronic health records (EHR) systems at every job. The can all be very different, so learning one will not always make it easier to learn the next. How can you cope with having to learn your way around new systems at every job? Is it even worth trying?

All you have to do is speak with your locum tenens network to discover that locum workers are not only making the best of the situation, but many are reaping even greater rewards in the process. Here's what you should know before you turn down the opportunities inherent to locum tenens work.

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Can You Have Job Security Through Locum Tenens?

Locum Tenens opportunities are more plentiful and more fruitful than ever. Clinicians who take advantage of Locum Tenens work can expect a secure future in the healthcare field.

There is no doubt that job security is a concern for the American workforce. Recent graduates hope to find a job that allows them to pay off their student loans and industry veterans look forward to a comfortable retirement. To achieve their goals, working men and women must find jobs that offer some level of security. This is no different for individuals in the healthcare field. Fortunately, clinicians who participate in Locum Tenens work are afforded the high level of job security they desire, along with numerous other benefits.

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Transitioning to Locum Tenens Work

If pundits are to be believed, there will be an overwhelming need for qualified healthcare workers in the coming years.  With many doctors and nurses approaching the age of retirement, fewer students entering healthcare professions, and a growing number of insured individuals seeking medical services, there will soon be a shortage of professionals to care for those in need.

What does this mean for current healthcare professionals and those just entering the medical field? For one, it could mean a lot more job openings as well as alternative job types. To fill this growing need, many healthcare providers and facilities are opening up locum jobs to fill any gaps in coverage.

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Know Before You Go: Preparing for a Locum Tenens Assignment

Whether you’re a seasoned locum tenens physician or you’ve just accepted your first contract opportunity, proper preparation is key to a successful assignment. The following is suggested for all providers to consider before their next start date:

  • EHR

One of the reasons doctors are drawn to locum tenens is the opportunity to get back to basics, and practice medicine in a way that sheds many of the bureaucratic obstacles faced by their full-time counterparts. However, a healthcare facility’s electronic health records (EHR) system is still part of the job that everyone shares. For any locum tenens provider, unfamiliarity with the EHR often equates to the largest time-waster they’ll encounter on any given assignment. Ask your recruiter about the system used by the facility you’re about to walk into, and make sure this administrative duty is not the pain point that stands in your way from quality time with patients.

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Preparing for A Locum Tenens Provider to Join Your Team

The addition of a locum tenens physician to your facility’s team yields the most effective results by first properly preparing them to provide coverage in conjunction with your existing medical staff.

Unlike allied healthcare or nurse travel personnel who are procured for 13-week assignments or longer, doctors practicing locum tenens are expected to fill very specific roles that unfortunately don’t allow them the luxury to ramp up as they go.

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Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC): Increasing Speed to Market for Locum Tenens

Medical providers who wish to practice in multiple states have traditionally faced a timely and cumbersome licensure process to do so. Therefore, many locum tenens companies have entire departments dedicated to helping physicians and advanced practitioners complete the necessary verification and credentialing requirements needed to begin any assignment. This includes assisting providers who need to attain (or renew) their license to practice medicine, a process that’s historically taken as long as six months in a single state.

Therein lies the recent good news from the Federation of State Medical Boards regarding the onset of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (or “IMLC”), designed to expedite the process for physicians to obtain multiple licenses through a single application.

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The locum tenens process: From inquiry to paycheck

Engaging in locum tenens practice as a full-time career or on a part-time basis is simpler than you might think. While there are several steps in the process that take you from initial inquiry to being paid for providing services, each one is straightforward. The process will vary somewhat among agencies, but here are nine steps that are consistent from firm to firm.

 

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Ethics: What locum tenens physicians should know

Within the locum tenens industry, there are ethical guidelines that, when followed, make life easier for all involved—from the physicians and the facilities where they practice, to the locum tenens agencies that put the two parties together. Here are a few things every physician should know about ethics and locum tenens practice.

LOCUM TENENS COMPANIES

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Five constants of career development

Whether you are a year out of residency or a year from retirement, there are certain career constants that you enjoy - or contend with, depending on your point of view - as a physician. Embracing ongoing career development can help ensure a satisfying and meaningful professional life. Consider these five practice guidelines.

Clinical advances keep you on your toes.

Physicians are fortunate to be in a field that is constantly changing. While it may feel daunting at times to stay up to date, lack of intellectual stimulation is never a problem. Keeping up clinically is easier than ever, thanks to the Internet. Online CME abounds in all specialty areas so that you can earn credit whether you are in the office, at home, in a hotel, or at the airport. Being able to read your favorite journal articles online makes it easy to keep up with the latest medical developments. It is important for physicians to stay current not only in clinical matters, but also with advances in information technology. More and more hospitals and clinics are converting to electronic systems, so being computer-phobic is no longer an option.

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Understanding locum tenens agreements

Reviewing and signing a long-term employment agreement can be a daunting experience. Page after page of legal language plus difficult to decipher compensation formulas are enough to give you a headache and heartburn, and that is before your attorney starts poking holes in every other clause. When it comes to reviewing a locum tenens agreement, however, you can leave your analgesics and antacids in the medicine cabinet.

These agreements run, at most, a few pages and you will most likely understand every paragraph even if you don't happen to have a law degree. This does not mean, however, that you should sign an agreement or engagement letter without reviewing it carefully. The short-term nature of a locum tenens engagement and the fact that you are an independent contractor make the agreements fairly straightforward. But you are entering into a contractual business agreement, so it is important to understand what you are signing. Read your entire agreement and pay special attention to the following:

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Tips on selecting locum tenens agencies

Type "locum tenens agency" into the search box on Google and you’ll find more than 100,000 website links. Okay, there are not actually that many companies in operation, but they would all like to help you find your next temporary engagement. So how do you choose the best staffing firms for you? Here are some tips that will help.

Talk to colleagues

If you are considering locum tenens for a week, a month, or for the rest of your career, your first step should be canvassing your professional network to find out who has experience, with which agencies, and in what kinds of practice settings. Ask what they know now that they wish they had known when they first began locum tenens practice.

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The benefits of moving from locum tenens to a permanent position

The interview went great. Your potential new partners were friendly and eager to show you the best of everything - within the practice, at the hospital, and in the community. You were entertained at fine restaurants. A chatty real estate agent drove you around town while boasting about the quality of the schools, the fabulous amenities in the community, and the great climate. You accept the position and 6 months later realize that the practice is on shaky ground financially, your partners are not highly thought of within the medical community, the school board is more dysfunctional than your cousin Leonard's family, and it has not stopped raining since you arrived. If I had only known, you think to yourself.

It is not uncommon for physicians, particularly young professionals, to take a first job (and even a second or third) only to find themselves disillusioned after a relatively short period of time. The reasons may be specific, or it may simply be that the practice was not a "good fit." Jumping too quickly into a permanent job is an understandable mistake, especially for doctors just out of training who are eager to get settled and start earning a living. But even mid-career physicians can be seduced into positions that turn out to be disappointing.

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The art of negotiation

Negotiation often brings to mind complex transactions like selling a house or legal matters like settling a divorce or dissolving a business partnership. Even negotiating something as seemingly simple as buying a car can conjure up images of conflict. Well, there is good news when it comes to negotiating a locum tenens contract. In fact, the process is so straightforward that it usually requires very little negotiation. This is because all of the parties involved want the same thing - a qualified physician to take care of patients on a temporary basis.

The recruiter responsible for matching a doctor with a particular opportunity wants to do a good job for both the client facility or practice and for the doctor. On the one hand, the hospital or clinic has a need to fill; whereas the locum tenens physician wants to practice in a setting and geographic location that will be professionally and personally rewarding. When three motivated parties have a vested interest in seeing "the deal" come to fruition, negotiation really comes down to engaging in open, honest communication that satisfies everyone's needs.

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Why choose locum tenens?

To answer the question, "Why choose locum tenens" requires first addressing the question of who practices locum tenens as either a full-time career or on a part-time or occasional basis. In this article, we break the who question into five categories, each one followed by answers to the why question.

Just out of training

Doctors fresh out of residency or fellowship who have yet to decide where they want to settle down find that locum tenens offers an excellent opportunity to explore different areas of the country. Like the idea of living in Montana but not sure how you would handle the winters? With locum tenens, you can find out firsthand.

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Q&A: Common questions about locum tenens pay rates

Few among us would work without fair compensation, no matter how much we loved our jobs. Physicians who practice locum tenens on either a part-time of full-time basis are naturally interested in earning potential. In this article, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about pay rates.

Q: HOW ARE PAY RATES DETERMINED?

A: Think back to Economics 101 where you learned about supply and demand. Pay rates for locum tenens physicians – who typically work as independent contractors and are matched to assignments by staffing agencies – are very much market driven. When there is a higher demand for, say, anesthesiologists than there are anesthesiologists to fill positions around the country (or in a particular geographic area), these physicians will command a higher rate than they would if they were in an oversupply situation. Pay rates may vary somewhat by location (i.e., you may earn more practicing in a remote community), but overall specialty demand tends to trump geography. Rates may be higher in practice settings where patient volume is above average, or where a position has been vacant for a long period of time.

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From training to locum tenens practice: Myths and realities

Are you a resident or fellow about to complete training? Not yet sure where you want to settle down? Waiting for a new job to start and looking to generate income and gain valuable experience in the interim? Locum tenens may be your answer. Consider these common myths and realities to find out more about this practice alternative.

MYTH: LOCUM TENENS INVOLVES TOO MUCH PAPERWORK.

Reality: It is true that, in most cases, you must secure a medical license for each state in which you practice, and you will likely need hospital privileges as well. These formalities need not be daunting if you give yourself enough lead time. Start by speaking with a recruiter at a reputable locum tenens agency. Companies have full-time staff members who will guide you every step of the way and even do some of the paperwork for you. Online credentials verification resources make the process easier than ever, but the sooner you get started the better. Some states (California, for example) tend not to rush when it comes to processing medical license applications. The bottom line is, yes, there is paperwork involved– but you will have support from your recruiter to get it all squared away.

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Making yourself marketable for locum tenens practice

Whether you practice locum tenens full-time or accept only the occasional engagement, there are ways to make yourself more attractive and marketable to both locum tenens agencies and their client facilities. It is all about flexibility, adaptability, affability, thinking strategically, and staying organized.

Physicians who enjoy steady locum tenens contracts know the importance of being flexible. This means being willing to travel to locations outside your immediate area and to practice in a variety of medical settings. For instance, locum tenens physicians may find themselves seeing patients in a rural community with a 40-bed hospital one month and in a metropolitan university hospital the next. You may think you only want to practice in outpatient settings in California, but opening yourself up to different locations and practice environments can be very rewarding. And, while the majority of locum tenens placements are arranged weeks or months in advance, occasionally an emergency arises that requires immediate coverage in a hospital or clinic. Be that physician if you can.

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From NALTO: Managing student loan debt

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average debt for a 2008 medical school graduate is $139,517, and more than 75% of graduates have debt in excess of $100,000. These figures are comparable to a home mortgage in some parts of the country. This enormous debt can be daunting, especially considering that a physician does not begin earning (residency salary aside) until his or her late 20s or even early-to-mid 30s.

Doctors often want to pay off student loans as quickly as possible, but investment executive Joe Potosky of MV Financial Group in Bethesda, Maryland, ( http://www.mvfgroup.com/) says they should approach debt management strategically. "People get psychologically attached to accomplishing an objective that may not be the most sound," says Potosky. "Don't let your emotions get in the way of a good business decision."

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