Building and maintaining professional relationships as a locum is important and extremely valuable to you, as a physician, for a number of reasons. Professional relationships afford you the opportunity to network. In doing so, you not only explore potential jobs but get your name out there and even add to your patient referral base. These relationships are furthermore essential to your success at the institution, as they will facilitate your efficiency and increase the likelihood that you be taken seriously. Carry yourself as a professional, and you will be treated professionally. Here are my recommendations on how to improve your reputation as a physician and strengthen your professional relationships.
1. Be a true professional
There are many types of professional relationships, including those with your peers, other medical staff, patients, and even with administration, and all are fostered differently. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, building professional relationships revolves around emulating characteristics of a true “professional”.
Professionalism essentially consists of embodying competence, responsibility, and respect. Being competent entails demonstrating proficiency at your specialty and having confidence in what you do. Always make sure to do your best work.
2. Be reliable
Responsibility is another important aspect of professionalism. Reliability is a subset of responsibility, and reliable physicians are hard to come by. When you commit to covering dates, make sure you are available to cover those dates. Canceling — especially canceling last minute — will leave a sour impression not only with that institution, but with the locums company. Word spreads quickly within the medical field, and having a reliable reputation is an enormous asset to your professional career.
Punctuality is similarly imperative. It often sets the lens through which you will be viewed. Make sure to be punctual in your response to emails and calls from the institution, in answering calls or consults from other providers or medical staff, and in showing up to your cases or consults in a timely manner. Punctuality connotes efficiency, which is an essential aspect of professional competency.
3. Be conscientious in your documentation
Whether you plan to return to the same institution or not, it is important to complete and close out your medical documentation. Appropriate documentation is difficult these days, but in my experience, documenting well is one of the easiest ways to leave a good impression with finance and thus with administration. Documentation is the lifeblood of the hospital, both medical-legally and financially. You will be recognized for the completeness and accuracy of your work, and to the hospital, this is money.
4. Be respectful
The final but equally important facet of professionalism is respect — respect for your colleagues, medical support staff, patients, and administration. Always be respectful and conscientious. Make sure not to be overly comfortable with patients, staff, or administration. There’s no room in the professional environment for inappropriate jokes, innuendos, gestures, etc. And that being said, there’s no better way to compromise your professional image. Moreover, when you, as the professional, see this occurring, take it upon yourself to promote a safe and professional workplace.
Once you’ve established professional relationships, you want to ensure that you maintain these relationships so that they continue to flourish and remain mutually beneficial. This involves remaining responsive to communications, ensuring continuity for your patients, and making sure that your work is quality.
What do you do to strengthen your professional relationships as a locum? Share your tips in the comments below.