What are your key criteria for choosing a locum tenens assignment? Do you want to practice in a certain sized hospital, or perhaps you only wish to accept assignments that run a few days or a week at a time? These are the types of details that help consultants choose which assignments to present for your consideration.
But what about the other side of the locum tenens arrangement? When facilities need extra staff, locum tenens is a reliable short-term solution; however, administrators are responsible for vetting every clinician who comes in to care for patients. By what criteria do they judge locum tenens physicians? What curriculum vitae elements do they want to see, and what types of entries (or lack thereof) might give them pause?
Here, three administrators share their thoughts on what hospital recruiters look for in locum tenens professionals.
When presented candidates for a temporary position, how do you determine if they’re qualified?
Amy Burns, system manager of physician recruitment, St. Vincent Medical Group: We need to make sure they have the specific skills we’re looking for, and they have to be board certified.
Joe Pressler, director of operations with Professional Emergency Physicians, Inc.: I have a relationship with Weatherby Healthcare, so I have confidence the staffing agency has done its due diligence in vetting candidates. What I really like to see is a good solid work history. Obviously, locum tenens bounce around, and that’s understandable, but if I see repeated assignments, that looks really good on paper.
Julia Race, director of physician services for a small hospital in Franklin County, New York: I want to make sure they are a high-quality provider. We are a small hospital, so this provider has a high likelihood of touching somebody I personally know. I do a Google search to look at their reviews. What people say about them can give you a good insight as to what we can expect. I don’t think that’s a perfect method, but it can alert you to potential problems.
What are some red flags that could reflect negatively on a locum tenens physician?
Burns: If we’ve heard from other facilities that they’re not good team players, they’re not able to see the right number of patients per hour, or if they’ve let their board certification lapse. They have to keep up on their skills and stay involved in different organizations.
Pressler: A lot of malpractice judgements or complaints are definitely red flags. Coming from the credentialing side, employment and education gaps can be hard to explain, so explain them up front. That saves us work on the backend of the credentialing process
On the other hand, what reflects positively on a provider?
Burns: Before we bring any providers in, we have hiring managers do telephone conversations with them. They should be able to articulate the types of skills they have and the things they’ve done at previous locations.
Race: If they can relate to and work with our staff. We’ve had instances where a provider was clinically good, but was unpleasant to the nursing staff or not very nice to a family member.
Other than clinical skills, what are your top concerns when selecting a locum tenens provider?
Pressler: Reliability and accountability are number one. The worst thing is if someone doesn’t show up. We need them to be there when they say they’re going to be there. Number two, I want them to do their best with our patients and treat them amazingly. I want to do a good job on our end, too. We provide them with a quick and basic orientation of what they can expect and what our resources are.
Race: Obviously continuity of care is important. We’re a small hospital and word of mouth is probably our biggest marketing tool, so if you have somebody who isn’t doing a good job, isn’t providing quality care, you’re going to hear about it within the community or on Facebook.
How does a provider’s availability affect your decision, especially when evaluating multiple candidates?
Race: I have pretty tight specs in terms of when I need coverage, so obviously it’s always helpful when somebody can offer some flexibility in terms of meeting when our coverage needs are.
Burns: Availability is definitely important to us. If we need someone next week and they can make arrangements to be here, that’s always a positive.
Are there other priorities for you in hiring a locums?
Pressler: I really like hearing about why they come to work every day. What drives their passion? Why do they like to do what they’re doing? How can they add to our team? That shows me what kind of person they are and how I can connect with them.
Is there any other advice you would give to providers about how to best represent themselves for short-term assignments?
Burns: Be open and honest. Don’t over promise and under-deliver.