The addition of a locum tenens physician to your facility’s team yields the most effective results by first properly preparing them to provide coverage in conjunction with your existing medical staff.
Unlike allied healthcare or nurse travel personnel who are procured for 13-week assignments or longer, doctors practicing locum tenens are expected to fill very specific roles that unfortunately don’t allow them the luxury to ramp up as they go.
Strategies for On-Boarding Locum Tenens
When scheduling coverage for the planned absence of a full-time physician, would it be possible for the locum tenens to shadow, or at least meet briefly with the full-time doctor they’re about to cover?
It sounds simple, but have you clearly communicated how to enter the facility and your department on their first day? Have you notified security personnel to expect their arrival? What’s the quickest way to access any equipment, supplies, or samples that may be needed by a locum while on assignment at your facility? Where might a new doctor grab a cup of coffee on their break?
- Policies & Procedures
What procedures, protocol, and policies such as those relating to safety and infection control for instance, will any locum tenens need to review before joining your team? Do you have a list of contact information for area pharmacies or social service agencies to supply new physicians?
One of the reasons that physicians practice locums is to focus on what they do best, practicing medicine without the administrative confines faced by their colleagues in employed roles. For each hour a physician spends treating a patient, it can take them up to twice as long (or more) to complete the update required to a facility’s electronic health records (EHR) system afterward.
As we noted in our previous blog, the locum tenens provider should share in the responsibility of preparing to navigate your facility’s EHR system as well. Failure to do so often equates to the majority of headaches and time wasted during any assignment. Prepare as much as possible to avoid any issues with the EHR system.
- Heads Up to Your Staff
Notify your full-time staff about scheduling a locum tenens provider well in advance to their arrival. This is will allow you the opportunity to clarify their role, address any questions or concerns they may have, and communicate your expectations for working together during their assignment at your facility.
- Cheat Sheet
Is this information already outlined for full-time doctors in an on-boarding process, given to them before their first day of employment? If so, why not distribute it to those providing temporary coverage as well? If not, write down the steps you take as you go to work on any given day; the same ones you’d give any ‘newbie’ you want to be successful.
- One Point of Contact
Who’s your Sherpa? One point of contact is also a recommendation we suggest to the doctors as well. A great agency empowers its recruiter (or chosen account rep) to remove any obstacles you might encounter from the desk level. Neither you, nor the physician, have time to waste; it’s in your best interest and that of any staffing agency to make sure you see as many patients as possible by the close of each shift.
When utilized correctly by healthcare administrators in their staffing mix, a locum tenens can make an immediate impact on the delivery of care at any facility. No other single staffing decision made by an in-house recruiter and their HR team will drive more revenue than scheduling their next locum.