Locum Tenens Tips

A Doctor’s Guide to Locum Tenens

Doctor working locum tenens

Doctor working locum tenensInterested in locum tenens, but unsure just exactly what the career alternative entails? You’ve come to the right place. For this edition of the Red Ribbon Blog, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about locum tenens.

What is locum tenens and why do facilities need locum tenens providers?

Locum tenens is a Latin term that translates into “one holding a place.” Physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants temporarily fill in at acute care hospitals, outpatient centers, private practices, and other facilities for a variety of reasons, such as spikes in patient census, staff vacations or leaves of absence, or expanding services.

Locum tenens providers work until permanent staffing needs are resolved, which takes a few months or a few days, depending on the facility’s specific situation.

How do I get started in locum tenens?

The first stop in the journey toward your inaugural contract is finding a staffing agency. When assessing different companies, inquire about the types of assignments they have, services provided to clinicians, and whether they are NALTO members.

Also, as a locum tenens provider, your primary point of contact will be your consultant, so evaluate the chemistry you could have with him or her. Do you get the sense he or she is personable? Is the consultant knowledgeable and responsive even before you make a commitment?

“It’s actually fun to develop a close personal relationship with your consultant,” says Dr. John Gray.

What is credentialing?

Once you’ve signed with a staffing agency, it’s time to get going on the paperwork verifying your educational and professional history. Weatherby Healthcare credentialing experts will guide you step by step.

That said, be prepared to submit various documentation, including your CV, medical school contact information, and references. Licensing specialists also help you get the ball rolling if you wish to accept an opportunity out of state.

How are assignments arranged?

Once all the credentialing and licensing are in place, you’re ready to start considering assignment possibilities. Typically, your consultant will notify you when an opportunity matching your clinical skills and personal interests becomes available.

You’ll be provided with the key details, including when and where the assignment is, the type of facility, clinical characteristics, specialized procedures, call responsibilities, and anything out of the ordinary.

If everything meets your approval, the staffing company presents your profile to the facility for evaluation. The next step is a phone interview between you and the hospital representative. Use this conversation to gain a better sense of the facility, its needs, and how you can help meet them.

How are logistics like housing and travel handled?

When facility and physician agree to a contract, the staffing agency starts putting all the logistical pieces in place. One department will assist in securing hospital privileges. Housing experts will find appropriate lodging. The travel team will book flights and reserve a rental car at the assignment location.

“I rarely get stressed en route to a new location because my arrangements are so well managed. Even if a flight is delayed or canceled, I know I will be taken care of,” says Dr. Steven Weissfeld.

Not only does the agency assume the financial responsibilities for housing and travel, but it also provides your malpractice insurance for the duration of the locum tenens contract.

Can I bring my family or pets?

“Sometimes my family comes to visit and we turn a weekend into a mini vacation,” says Dr. Albert Deibele.

If you would like family members, even of the four-legged variety, to accompany you on assignment, communicate those wishes with your consultant, who will forward the request to housing and travel representatives. In many cases, they’ll be able to include your companions; however, you have to cover the extra expenses.

How will I be paid?

Generally speaking, weekly timesheets are turned into the staffing company, and payments are made through direct deposit.

What if I have questions while on assignment?

Your Weatherby Healthcare consultant will be checking in with you throughout your locum tenens jobs to make sure things are going according to plan or answer questions. He or she is your go-to person for anything regarding your locum tenens experience.

About the author


Anne Baye Ericksen

Anne Baye Ericksen is a journalist and locum tenens subject-matter expert with more than two decades of experience. She was a regular contributor to LocumLife, Healthcare Traveler and Healthcare Staffing and Management Solutions magazines.

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