A good locum tenens onboarding program is critical if you want to get your locums physicians up to speed as quickly as possible. But it can be a challenge to design an onboarding process that’s optimal for the facility, the staff, the locums physician, and the patients. If you’re responsible for locum tenens onboarding, here are four ways that can help improve your onboarding process.
1. Assign a dedicated owner
How are your locum tenens onboarding tasks distributed? Do you have a specific person or team that focuses on just locums recruitment and onboarding, or is the task assigned to staff who are juggling many other responsibilities?
HR recruiter Ryan Maher with Presbyterian Healthcare Services recommends a small team or staff member who is dedicated to the locums recruitment and onboarding process.
“Our director used to do locums and perm recruiting and it was overwhelming. Now we have a dedicated locums recruiter who is very familiar with medical staff affairs, credentialing, all of it. She’s involved in the onboarding, scheduling coverage dates, making sure they take their EMR and departmental training, and making sure they arrive on time. If the locums have any problems, they reach out to us or they’ll reach out to their reps at the agency who contact us.”
2. Keep communication at the forefront
For any healthcare facility to run smoothly, it’s imperative that everyone’s on the same page. As part of the locum tenens onboarding process, regular meetings that address key concerns and can help keep everyone in the loop are pertinent.
“We have either weekly or bi-weekly meetings,” Maher says. “We include our medical staff and everybody that needs to be in the know about what’s happening. We make sure everyone is expecting the locums, that they’re on the schedule, and that they have everything ready.”
Clear and direct communication with the locums physician is also necessary. A concise and detailed process that helps them understand what to expect can create a positive experience from start to finish.
Charlie Cochran, a health system recruiter with Deaconess, describes their approach to keeping everyone informed: “At orientation we want the locums to ask questions, to feel welcome, and to know where things are and who they can go to. On the itinerary, we include names and contact info — myself, the physician recruiter, the practice coordinator, and the practice manager. It’s successful for both parties.”
3. Simplify the training process
If your full EMR system training process is too in-depth for a locums, consider how it could be simplified. Deaconess developed a streamlined training experience for their EMR system that reduced the amount of training required for locums, while still giving them everything they need to get started.
“When the locums come in for orientation, they have the EMR training, which typically takes three hours,” Cochran says. “Plus, we provide them with the help desk line so they have a number to call for EPIC trainers directly.”
Dr. Omar Rivera, who has worked multiple locums assignments at Deaconess, was pleased with the streamlined training. “It was a good experience. I felt very comfortable. It’s very user friendly and I caught on pretty quickly.”
Presbyterian streamlined their training as well. “We used to bring them in for a one and a half or two-day training in a workroom and it was very hard on the physicians,” Maher says. “So we implemented online EMR trainings that take about two hours generally and give them the information we feel they need to be successful. If they haven’t worked with EMRs then we offer onsite training too. It just works for everybody.”
4. Appoint a mentor to break the ice
Stepping into a new healthcare facility and getting acclimated to a new environment can be a challenge for a locums. A fellow physician who’s familiar with the process can act as a mentor for the locums and help ease the transition.
“We have new locums meet with one of our physicians for about four hours. They have a chance to ask their questions, so it creates a good comradery for them because that’s what we do for our perm providers too,” Maher says. “We’ve received a lot of good comments from the locums, and we’ve had a lot of long-standing locums work for us because of that process.”
In the end, investing in an effective locum tenens onboarding process will benefit your organization by allowing locums physicians to begin contributing more quickly. It will also make them want to return for additional assignments.
“We strive to create the best experience possible,” Cochran says. “Hopefully those locums will continue to come back and provide coverage for us in the future.”
What are you doing at your facility to bring your locums up to speed more quickly? Share in the comments below.