The first day at a new location as a locum tenens physician can be particularly challenging. By the time most other people have started to settle into a new job, you might already be on your way to a new assignment. Onboarding can also vary quite a bit from assignment to assignment, and you’re often required to get up to speed quickly with new tech systems, environments, and staff. Use these five strategies to integrate quickly from the first day and make your locum tenens assignment a glowing success.
1. Plan ahead and be organized
Set yourself up for success before you even start your first day by making sure you have the phone number of the hospital or practice where you’ll be working locum tenens. That way you’ll be prepared to keep them updated if you have a delayed flight or encounter a traffic mess.
You also never know quite what you’ll be walking into. You might have someone ready to show you the ropes or you may be staring at a bunch of questioning faces. Be sure to get the name of who will be onboarding you from your Weatherby consultant so that you can find your way to the right team with minimal stress for everyone.
2. Show up early
A good first impression will set the tone for the duration of your locum tenens assignment. Make every effort possible to ensure it goes as well as possible. One way to do this is to arrive ten to fifteen minutes early on the first day. Showing up early demonstrates enthusiasm for your new post and shows the people you’ll be working with how much you want to be there. It’s also a safeguard against unforeseen delays in an unfamiliar commute.
3. Introduce yourself a lot
Take the time to introduce yourself to your new colleagues. Alex Curry, a consultant on Weatherby’s general surgery team, recommends that you say hello and ask for the name of anyone you come into contact with throughout your working day, from the scrub tech to the administrators. “Treat everyone with respect and how you want to be treated. This simple gesture goes a long way towards endearing yourself to the permanent staff,” Alex says.
Weatherby consultant Keely Sheets puts it this way, “Being interactive with the administration, with the staff, all the mid-level support is huge, because those are the people who are there every day to assist you and you want to work well with them.”
So take the few extra seconds to remember names and express gratitude to anyone you work with during your shift. It takes very little time and effort to use someone’s name or thank them and both can do wonders for bolstering your relationships.
4. Tread lightly
Every facility has a unique workplace culture. When beginning work at a new location, it’s a good strategy to tread lightly while you observe how it works. Avoid making any demands or rocking the boat before you’ve settled in. You may have suggestions for how things could be better run, but exercise patience and understand that you need to earn the trust and respect of your new colleagues before offering advice.
Weatherby consultant Kristine Hlavacka explains the mindset of a successful locums: “They’re not going there to change how the practice works. They’re not going to ruffle feathers. They’re there to fill a spot that’s empty and help that practice out.” This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be helpful, just go in with an open and teachable demeanor.
A great way to engage your peers without ruffling feathers is to ask a few questions about your new workplace. Asking questions demonstrates you’re interested in successfully adapting to your new environment and it gives your new coworkers the chance to demonstrate their home court expertise.
5. Integrate with the practice
Nothing makes permanent staff more excited on a first day than a locum tenens physician who cares for patients as if they were joining the staff permanently. Kayla Silver, a physician recruiter with Regional Health in Rapid City, SD, says the ability to provide integrated patient care is her top metric when evaluating whether a locums placement was successful.
“We always hear back when there’s great patient care, but we also really value the locums who makes an effort to integrate into the practice — as if they were on our staff permanently — so that our patients can’t tell the difference if they’re a traveling locums or if they’re employed here. When a locums physician integrates well, and gets to know our patients and our staff, and the way that our processes go and how our clinics and surgeries are run, it just makes it so much better all the way around. So we look for locums who can integrate successfully, whether they’re there for a week or a year.”
The best locums are chameleon physicians who adept at quickly and efficiently blending into the rhythm of their new location. By following the above advice, you’ll thrive in your new location and quickly connect with the permanent staff. This will help you to get to work more quickly, provide better care for your patients, and cement your reputation as a highly desirable locum tenens physician from the very first day.
What do you do to make your first day in a new locum tenens assignment more successful? Share your tips in the comments below.