Healthcare Facilities

Recruiters: How to get a quality locums every time

Determine quality in a locum tenens provider

Locum tenens providers can be a lifesaver when you need extra help on your team, but they can also be a problem if they aren’t the right fit for your facility. Fortunately, by asking the right questions to the right people, you can get the answers you need to make an educated decision about the quality and suitability of a locum tenens candidate. Here are a few sample questions to get you started.

Questions to ask the provider

When interviewing a provider candidate — either on the phone or in person — include a combination of behavioral and practice-related questions. The range of responses you receive by asking both types of questions will help you to better understand the provider than just practice-related questions alone.

Behavioral questions

Questions like the ones below will help you identify how a provider perceives and interacts with others as well as the clinical environment. Be sure to dig deeper if you feel the initial response isn’t giving the full story.

  • Describe a situation where you had a difficult patient and how you worked to resolve the issue.
  • How do you explain complicated instructions to a patient?
  • Describe a time that there was conflict with other physicians, nurses, or staff and how you dealt with the situation.
  • How do you deal with someone who is very upset?
  • What kind of people do you work best with?
  • What kind of people do you struggle to work with?
  • What are your steps for fixing a problem when you make a mistake?
  • What do you do when you disagree with a policy?
  • What do you do when you see an opportunity to make an improvement in a process or policy?
  • What is the most difficult problem you face on a regular basis? And how do you deal with it?

Practice questions

How recruiters can determine quality in a provider

The questions can be difficult to ask but the answers are critical. Be as tactful as possible, but definitely include these questions in every interview.

  • Have you ever had your employment as a provider terminated?
  • Have you ever had your medical license denied, investigated, suspended, or revoked?
  • Have you ever withdrawn a medical licensure application from a state licensing board?
  • Have you ever withdrawn an application for medical staff membership at any facility?
  • Have you been investigated by a health insurance program?
  • Are you the subject of any pending medical malpractice claims or settlements?
  • Have you been censured by a medical association?
  • Have you been convicted of or indicted for alleged criminal activities?
  • Do you have a dependence on any chemical substances?

An affirmative response isn’t always a deal killer, but it is helpful to discover any potentially disqualifying concerns early in the process.

Questions to ask the agency

One advantage of working with a locum tenens agency is that they have a pre-existing relationship with the provider. The agency recruiter usually knows the provider much better than you can after one or two interviews. Leveraging that relationship will help you gain new insights into the candidate.

Sample questions to ask the agency:

  • How long have you known/worked with this provider?
  • What is their work history with your agency?
  • Have you completed credentialing, licensing, and/or hospital privileging with them and how did it go?
  • How responsive were they in providing needed paperwork?
  • Is there any history of malpractice?
  • Has this provider worked at facilities/geographic areas similar to mine?
  • What issues have come up on previous assignments and how did they respond to those issues?
  • How do they get along with other staff doctors/nurses?
  • How flexible are they to changing conditions? Do they roll with the punches?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate them as a team player?

Questions to ask both the agency and the provider

It’s a good idea to ask some questions to both the healthcare provider and the locum tenens agency. You may get similar responses, but you will usually learn something new that will help your overall understanding of who the provider is and how well they will fit with your organization.

Healthcare provider enjoying time with family

Example questions to ask both the provider and the agency:

  • How long have they doing locums?
  • How long do they plan on doing locums?
  • Do they do locums full-time or is it a side job?
  • What motivates them to work locums (e.g. travel/tourism, extra money, experience in a different clinical setting, etc.)?
  • What do they look for in a work environment?
  • How do they handle admissions?
  • Are they good with computers/EMRs, etc.?
  • What are their family relationships? Do they have family who live near my facility?
  • What work/life balance issues are important to them? And how do they work maintain that balance?

Bringing on a new provider is a lot of work. Make that work pay off by improving your chances of finding a quality provider by asking the right questions to the right people.

Do you have questions that work well in your provider screening process? Share in the comments below. For help finding the right locum tenens provider for your facility, give us a call at 954.343.3050 or complete the form below.

About the author

Gerry Carpenter

Gerry Carpenter is the managing editor for CHG Healthcare. He is a 20-year marketing veteran who loves to write, edit, and play with words. He enjoys visiting new places, speaks fluent French, and is slowly learning Portuguese and Japanese.


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