Facilities

Pros and cons of using a locum tenens doctor right out of residency

Woman physician smiling at camera

Locum tenens positions can be great opportunities for early career physicians who want to explore their options. But can physicians just out of residency be a good fit for your healthcare facility’s short-term needs? Here are the pros and cons of bringing on newly minted physicians for locum tenens positions.

Pro: You can bring them on quickly

One very practical upside to bringing on early career locum tenens physicians is that you can typically bring them on board quickly. With a shorter work history along with few or no malpractice claims, they can often be easier to credential and license. Plus, many early career physicians are single or don’t have children, making it easier to recruit them for harder-to-fill shifts.

Con: They can be outspoken

Studies have shown that younger doctors are often more comfortable speaking out when they disagree with senior colleagues or believe something can be improved. This could cause a generational friction between younger and older staff. However, it can also help spur positive change — for example, a greater focus on work-life balance or physician wellness. 

Pro: They have energy and enthusiasm

Dr. Simran Kalra
Dr. Simran Kalra

Many young physicians bring energy, enthusiasm, and fresh ideas to the practice of medicine. They also bring a digital native’s comfort with adopting new technologies, like EHRs. “Everywhere I go, I have to learn their particular EHR platform. I actually enjoy learning that,” explains Dr. Simran Kalra, a pediatrician who began working locum tenens jobs from the start of her career. “It’s pretty straightforward, but it might be harder with somebody who’s not as tech savvy. And it can slow the flow, too.”

Con: They have less experience

Brand-new doctors simply lack the years of experience that more senior physicians can bring to the job. Physicians just out of residency may require a little bit of extra training up front. And the way your practice operates may not exactly match what they learned during their residency or schooling, which will require some adjustment for the physician.

“You can’t go in there and just have your set ways. You have to work with people. You have to be able to work with the tools they have,” says Dr. Kalra. “Yeah, you’re going to be a little bit slower your first day compared to their regular physician, but you do have to adjust pretty quickly just to keep the flow, so it definitely keeps you on your toes.”

Pro: They are eager to learn

Dr. Kimberly Atiyeh
Dr. Kimberly Atiyeh

On the other hand, fresh-out-of-residency physicians are eager to learn as much as they can from each new practice setting. Dr. Kimberly Atiyeh obtained her education in New York City, then completed her residency in Pittsburgh. After that, she accepted a locum tenens position in a rural area. “Something that I’ll always carry with me is that exposure to a different type of community that I hadn’t had in the past,” she says. “It was really cool to be able to experience something totally different. You can really see the pros and cons of being a specialist in that type of environment.”

Pro: They may become your next new hire

Locum tenens positions are a good way for facilities and new physicians to try each other out. If it proves to be a good match, the arrangement has the potential to become permanent. Dr. Atiyeh’s exposure to a rural setting as a locums physician ultimately helped her become excited about accepting a permanent position in Colorado.

Dr. Kevin Porciuncula
Dr. Kevin Porciuncula

That was also the case for Dr. Kevin Porciuncula, a family medicine physician who began working locum tenens for a clinic with three locations. “They liked me enough that they offered me a position,” he says. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, and I think locums gave me the best opportunity to try out different things — although the job I ended up signing with was my first job.”

Finding the right fit

When looking to fill a position, don’t overlook early career locum tenens physicians. They can bring energy, flexibility, and fresh ideas to your facility. And in turn, you will give them valuable experience in a new setting. With the right fit, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Need help with staffing? Weatherby can provide highly qualified locum tenens physicians in 70 specialties. Give us a call at 844.897.3215 to learn more.

About the author

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart is a journalist who frequently covers issues and trends in the healthcare industry.

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