Guiding the Temp Doc

Written by on September 28, 2012 in Features - No comments

The physicians’ locum tenens industry can be an exciting adventure where you practice medicine around the country or even around the world.  Or on a more local basis, it can be an excellent way for you to find the perfect practice, earn average or better pay, enjoy flexibility in your schedule and investigate your favorite geographic location for you and your family to live.  Whatever your reason for considering a locum tenens career, your life will be filled with options and maybe a few changes.

As a locum tenens physician, you are usually hired as an independent contractor and the rules may be a little different.  If you are new at this or just contemplating the possibilities and, consequently, are unsure of what to expect, then you may want to be proactive and contact your tax accountant.  Your CPA will help to guide you through the rule changes.  Your staffing agency will also be experts who can help. They will be there to advise you along the way and answer whatever questions you may have on the “rules and regs” of the physicians’ temporary assignment industry.

Speaking of your staffing agency, they will become administrators in your career and life while you travel through this adventure.  Whether you travel or stay local to your licensed state, your recruitment firm will be the liaison between you and the contracting practice or hospital.  Some of the services that are handled on your behalf are your pay, schedules, term, licensing, housing and insurance.  There are many factors to consider when approaching the task of choosing your locum tenens staffing agency.  There are many to choose from, ranging in staff size, competing for your business.

Your might begin by asking your colleagues that work locums for their recommendations and views.  Some pertinent questions when speaking to potential agencies might be:

  • What specialties does the agency focus on?
  • What pay range can be anticipated?
  • What are the assignment length options?
  • What is the agency’s geographical area?
  • Does the agency provide housing and cover expenses like mileage?
  • Will professional liability be covered? Is it occurrence-based or claims-made?
  • Does the professional liability policy include tail coverage?

The agency will create a credentialing file on you and your license, CME certificates and other important documents are in one organized place.  It will now be the agency’s mission to confirm that all your credentials can be verified and if all goes well, they will begin reviewing your options for assignments.  Once you have contracted with your recruitment agency, you have the ability to accept or decline an assignment.

A few pertinent questions regarding your potential assignment might be:

  • Are hours guaranteed?
  • Are there any on-call responsibilities?
  • What is their policy on overtime?
  • What shifts are available?
  • What is the daily patient volume you will be expected to see?
  • What are the patient demographics you will be seeing?
  • Is the facility looking for someone to fill the physician job permanently? What happens if things go so well and they want to convert the assignment to a permanent hire?
  • Can you speak with the medical director and/or other locum tenens at the client facility?

Your agency will ask several questions as well so they are able to provide you with assignments that are the best fit; what procedures have you conducted and practice environments do you prefer?  This exchange of information will begin to nurture your relationship and help to insure a positive partnership.

Locum tenens work can be exciting and one of the best experiences of your career, especially if you find the perfect match in an agency and your assignments.  Its many benefits and overall flexibility may even lead you to become a locum tenens doctor for the rest of your medical career.

By Monica Menezes Irwin

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