Locum tenens is a cost-effective strategy that allows facilities to shore up short-term staffing gaps, bringing in a qualified physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant on an as-needed basis.
Sometimes unexpected hitches can crop up, and miscommunications happen. When these types of situations occur, they can leave either the locum tenens professional or your staff feeling less than satisfied with the experience.
Wouldn’t it be beneficial to know beforehand what circumstances commonly cause frustrations so you can work to prevent them altogether?
CHG Healthcare Services—parent company of Weatherby Healthcare—along with Wakefield Research recently conducted a survey that identified some of the most common complaints among locum tenens professionals. Read on to see what the results reveal as well as advice on how to create a satisfying locum tenens experience for all involved—the provider, department staff, and facility representatives.
The survey says…
No continuity of patient care and unfamiliarity with hospital administrative systems
Lack of patient care continuity registered as the top frustration among locum tenens physicians, followed closely by having to learn hospital administrative systems with each new assignment. Interestingly, both concerns boil down to one key ingredient: information.
Bringing in someone unfamiliar with your facility’s administrative particulars could throw off patient continuity temporarily. To minimize the effect, provide your staffing company representative with detailed information about the department or unit so he or she can forward it on to the clinician prior to arrival.
Key information includes contact information for point-of-contact person; average caseload and/or admittance rate; a list of common procedures; and an explanation of support staff services or availability of mid-level providers.
Next among locum tenens professionals’ concerns was the credentialing process. The bulk of this responsibility falls on staffing companies, which often have dedicated experts to handle the details. However, facilities can speed up the pre-assignment paperwork by being as specific as possible about documentation and data required to grant hospital privileges to the locum tenens doctor.
Getting little to no on-boarding training
Most facilities partner with staffing companies because they have an immediate need to fill. Therefore, locum tenens providers are expected to get up to speed as soon as possible, which doesn’t always allow time for a traditional orientation.
Still, you can familiarize visiting clinicians with your facility ahead of time. Virtual tours, for example, allow them to get a feel for the physical setup. An online orientation process allows providers to complete various steps prior to reporting for duty. Even information about parking, equipment, or software can help locum tenens professionals ease into your system as quickly as possible.
Lack of specialist or sub-specialist backup
Unfortunately, small and rural hospitals may not have the depth of specialists on call as large urban facilities. In these cases, perhaps the best option to alleviate locum tenens physicians’ concerns is to compile a network of specialists who can be contacted when needed. With video-call technology improving, telemedicine consults are becoming a more viable alternative when face-to-face consultations aren’t available.
Not fitting in with the hospital culture
Of course, finding a locum tenens provider with the necessary clinical experience is critical because he or she will be caring for your patients. However, it’s equally important to find someone whose personality and practice style will match your culture and who will interact well with your staff. Use the phone interview to discern whether your facility is the best match for the locum tenens candidate.
Remember, not every locum tenens experience is guaranteed to be issue-free. But when you take steps to prevent possible hitches or miscommunications, you greatly improve the odds of providing everyone a positive locum tenens outcome.