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Hiring Locum Tenens as Part of Your Permanent Recruiting Strategy

Every facility wants to secure great physicians who provide excellent care and plan to stick around for at least five years. Unfortunately, keeping your hospital or private practice fully staffed is easier said than done.

According to the most recent benchmarking survey from Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR), it takes an average of 222 days for a hospital’s in-house recruitment team to fill an open position. In many cases, this long hiring process results in significant revenue loss for the facility. Fortunately, locum tenens doctors can be a solution to your hiring needs. Not only does it take less time to get a locum into a position (usually about 60 days, and sometimes sooner), but using locum tenens ensures that your patients can still be seen, you can earn revenue, and that your existing staff don’t burn out.

Hiring takes more time than you expect.

You might be wondering how it could possibly take more than six months to hire a new physician. Here are a few reasons the hiring process can be lengthy:

  • It can take several months to evaluate CVs and choose potential candidates to interview,
  • especially in a highly competitive field like family practice.
  • Even if a physician signs a contract within a few months, he or she may have to complete a 90-day out clause with a current employer before beginning a new job.
  • Many doctors must relocate for new positions, which can take up to 60 days, depending on individual situations.
  • New staff physicians must be credentialed and signed up with insurance companies through the hospital, which takes 30 days.

When it takes nearly eight months to get another physician on board, what happens to the other doctors at your hospital or practice? They may become overworked and consider a new career altogether, or they may begin looking for other opportunities at a different hospital. Don’t risk losing more of your staff members while you’re trying to hire a replacement. Bringing locum tenens doctors on board can have the following benefits:

Preventing burnout by hiring temporary physicians.

Hiring locum tenens physicians also ensures patients are seen more quickly and have no reason to look elsewhere for care.

(Daily gross charges – daily locum coverage rate) x 200 days = ROI.

You must also consider the cost of the locum provider, but by using the simple formula below, you can easily calculate the ROI:

If you hire a locum tenens doctor during that time, you’ll net 200 days of billable gross charges for the facility, adding up to $451,400 (based on the MGMA 2015 Report), even if it takes 60 days to get him or her on board.

Each day that a physician is not working, you’re losing revenue. For example, say it takes you 260 days to recruit a new family practice physician who accounts for $2,254 in daily gross charges. You could be losing out on approximately $586,000 before you fill the job.

Losing money while you look for a new hire.

All of these steps can add up to an additional 140 days before a physician can begin his or her new job, not to mention time needed for onboarding.

  • Lighter patient loads. Even hiring just one locum tenens doctor at your facility can mean a shorter work week for other physicians and care for hundreds of patients.
  • More vacation time and flexibility. Some of your doctors may not have taken a day off in months, and the daily grind of medicine is a big contributor to burnout. Having another staff member to take care of patients means others can enjoy a well-deserved break.
  • Time to pursue professional opportunities. Maybe one of your surgeons wants to attend a big conference but hasn’t had the time since you’re short-staffed. With a locum tenens doctor to fill the gaps, she can finally attend.

By hiring these professionals, you can maintain your revenue, provide quality care for patients, and help ensure that other staff members don’t experience burnout while you recruit a permanent physician for your facility.

Locum tenens staffing can help address staffing challenges in both rural facilities and hospitals in some of the largest metro areas of the country.

Making locum tenens part of your strategy.

Hiring physicians to help your facility temporarily shows you’re committed to helping staff members achieve a better work/life balance and can lead to stronger employee loyalty.


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