Locum Tenens Tips

How to be a Rock Star Locum Tenens Doctor

Locum tenens doctor

Locum tenens doctorWhen you arrive on the scene of a locum tenens job, you’re automatically in the spotlight. The permanent staff will be watching how you care for their patients and how well you fit into their work environment.

Well, if you’re going to be on stage, why not treat the opportunity like a rock star? Give your temporary audience an experience that will have them calling for an encore, or—in the case of locum tenens—future assignments.

The following characteristics have been identified by human resources professionals and management experts as star qualities in the corporate world. Here’s how you can apply them to your locum tenens assignment.

A clear communicator

Avoiding misunderstandings is critical in the clinical setting. Physicians must communicate patient orders to nurses and supporting staff and explain medical conditions and procedures to patients. Locum tenens professionals don’t have the luxury of longstanding relationships with co-workers who can pick up on each other’s nonverbal cues or workplace vocabulary. So be sure to convey questions and requests in concise terms.

A time manager

Facilities hire locum tenens physicians, physician assistants (PAs), and nurse practitioners (NPs) because patient census could be spiking, staff members may be out on medical or family leave, or the organization is expanding services. Whatever the reason, these facilities are experiencing personnel shortages, and that can result in permanent staff being busier than ever. Being able to manage your shifts without a lot of direction could help alleviate stress on the staff.

A reliable professional

Do what you say you’ll do. Be sure to meet the specifics of the contract, including showing up to shifts on time or early, accepting call responsibility, or even volunteering to work extra hours if the need arises. Following through shows that you can be counted on even though you’re there for only a short period.

An optimist

When you head to a locum tenens assignment, you often encounter a short-staffed facility and stressed coworkers. However, your presence should not only should help lessen some of that strain but inject a fresh attitude to lighten morale. If you arrive with a friendly attitude, ready to pitch in, that optimism can become contagious to those around you.

A team player

Although you’ve been vetted by the facility before being offered the locum tenens assignment, staff members you’ll be working alongside may not know much about your background and experience. To them, you’re a stranger who will be treating their patients. One of the best ways to earn the staff’s trust is to become a team player. Learn how the office or unit functions, and adapt your style to their systems without compromising your best judgment for medical decisions.

A humble nature

Locum tenens professionals can display this value by accepting differences between facilities. Don’t insist you know a better way, or that the current staff’s method is incorrect. Of course, if someone asks for your advice, offer it in a positive, professional way.

An inquisitor

Most people understand someone new to a facility will have a few questions—but asking so many questions that you’re intrusive can ruin the experience for everyone. A rock star locum tenens professional will know how to prioritize their inquiries and the most opportune time to ask so they’re not distracting co-workers.

If you really want to rock the career alternative, make sure you also adopt the following habits:

  • Update your résumé after each position, locum tenens and otherwise
  • Keep medical licenses and board certifications current
  • Check in with your consultant before, during, and after each contract
  • Participate in follow-up surveys and post-assignment feedback

About the author

Anne Baye Ericksen

Anne Baye Ericksen is a journalist and locum tenens subject-matter expert with more than two decades of experience. She was a regular contributor to LocumLife, Healthcare Traveler and Healthcare Staffing and Management Solutions magazines.

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