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Strategies for obtaining state medical licenses

Much like obtaining staff privileges at hospitals, the process of getting state medical licenses is becoming more arduous for physicians as medical boards tighten standards. As you consider your locum tenens career, think strategically about which licenses you will need. The more places you are licensed, the more choices you will have, but that does not mean you need a license in dozens of states. Depending on the size of the primary states in which you practice—the larger the state, the more opportunities typically available—five to eight is probably about right.

STATE PREFERENCES

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Tax tips for locum tenens physicians

Although it is only January, April 15 will be here before you know it. Physicians who practice locum tenens are independent contractors and, as such, have certain financial opportunities and responsibilities related to their tax status. Here are six ways to reduce stress and help you save on taxes when it is time to file your returns.

KEEP GOOD EXPENSE RECORDS

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Consider part-time locum tenens to boost income

When the economy is unstable, as it is now and most likely will be for some time to come, even high-income professionals feel the impact. An economic downturn probably will not mean, as it does for many people, that doctors will have to cut back on essential purchases such as food, clothing, and fuel. But if you are watching your retirement account balance fluctuate wildly and have seen the value of your home decline over the last couple of years, you may be feeling the pinch—if only in terms of your ability to plan for the future and afford a few luxuries.

 

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Your CV: What to include, what to leave off

Depending on how long you have been out of training, your curriculum vitae (Latin, meaning "course of life," CV for short) may fit onto one page or have the heft of a small book. Either way, it is important to keep this record of your education, training, experience, and professional accomplishments up to date.

Physicians often have questions about what to include and what to leave off their CVs. Here are tips to help ensure that your CV makes a positive impression when you are seeking locum tenens engagements.

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Acing the phone interview

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That rule especially applies to phone interviews for locum tenens positions. Unlike approaching a permanent-practice opportunity where you might engage in several phone interviews followed by an on-site visit, the locum tenens evaluation process usually occurs during the course of a single phone conversation. During this brief encounter, it is important to make a good first impression, and equally important to use the time to make sure you will be comfortable stepping into the temporary practice opportunity under consideration.

Before the phone interview, your recruiter will have made a provisional "match" between you and the hospital or clinic you are considering. You will already know a reasonable amount about the scope and requirements of the assignment, and the person interviewing you will have reviewed your CV and references.

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Why locum tenens may be the perfect career now

For decades, physicians have engaged in locum tenens practice for a variety of reasons at different times throughout their careers. Newly minted residents unsure about where they want to settle or what type of practice setting they might enjoy use locum tenens as a way to explore options. Mid-career physicians take locum tenens engagements to see how other practices operate or when they are between permanent jobs. Semi-retired doctors enjoy that locum tenens allows them to keep a hand in medicine without the hassle of staying fully immersed in practice.

Today, given the unstable economy and that healthcare reform is under serious discussion in Washington, physicians are looking at locum tenens for new reasons. Here are a few scenarios that locum tenens agency recruiters are seeing unfold.

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Simplifying the medical staff application process

Every physician knows that the process of applying for medical staff membership and privileges can be tedious and time consuming. The forms and photocopies, that long list of yes/no questions, and pouring over the clinical privilege request sheet can take hours. The good news for locum tenens physicians is that, with a little organization on the front end, this process can be streamlined considerably. The best locum tenens agencies do everything they can to reduce paperwork for doctors who are busy traveling the country (and sometimes the world) to practice medicine.

While locum tenens agencies are not in a position to perform formal "credentialing," any reputable firm will do a thorough credentials review based on the same standards as hospitals before presenting a physician to a practice location. Because they not only understand their clients' quality standards, but are also responsible for procuring or facilitating malpractice coverage for the physicians with whom they contract, staffing companies engage only well-trained and highly-qualified individuals.

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