As physicians, we are inexorably products of our training. Further, we are influenced by the long-instilled practices of the institutions where we work. Locum tenens, on the other hand, provides us with the unique opportunity to be exposed to, learn, and adopt the best practices from other institutions across the country. This opportune exposure to a variety of contemporary, evidence-based practices promotes the mixing of ideas and can serve as a basis for improvement in efficiency and patient care at your own primary institution.
New ways of doing things
As an orthopaedic surgeon, I have observed many new ways of doing things that have helped me in my own practice at home. For instance, you may observe a preoperative total joints pathway which is far more comprehensive than that at your institution, one that has been found to optimize patient outcomes following joint replacement surgery for this institution’s patients. It may lead you to adopt portions of such practices or fine-tune the practices which are already in place at your own institution.
Conversely, you may come across practices which — while you may not have been aware — are no longer the standard of care or have become largely outdated. As a result, you would be in a position to facilitate the adoption of more state-of-the-art patient care, both at your institution and at large.
Different operating models
All locum tenens assignments are different, and while some may have certain similarities, each institution has its own unique hierarchy and functions differently. When you’re in a new environment, these differences can affect why you may or may not enjoy an assignment.
In my experience, these reasons generally fall under the categories of:
- Patient volume and case variety
- Work pace and call tempo
- Institutional efficiency (be it in the clinical, surgical, or emergency setting)
- Accessibility (either physical, within the hospital, or electronic, via the medical record system)
Based on the above considerations, a facility that provides for a robust patient volume and case mix, a busy but manageable work and call tempo, efficient and well-coordinated interdepartmental cooperation, and good, reliable, and communicative support staff — from call coordinators to charge nurses — would in my opinion be a facility that would be very attractive to continue to work for.
By thoroughly evaluating and trying to understand the reasons behind your satisfaction or dissatisfaction, you can learn ways to improve both the functioning of and your contentment with your own facility.
Exposure to the differences you’ll encounter while on locum assignments can give you new insights into the factors that contribute to the efficiency and accessibility at the respective institutions. Ultimately, these insights can provide you with the opportunity to integrate the most attractive features into your own facility.