A Physician’s Locum Tenens Agency Speaks Up

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

One of the most important decisions to be made by a locum tenens physician or traveling nurse is who will represent them.  They are the experts in the field and will be the liaison between them and the search for the perfect match in a temporary position.

Med Monthly spoke to the owner, Mr. Philip Driver, of Physician Solutions, Inc,. a locum tenens staffing company with 24 years of seniority in the industry located in Raleigh, North Carolina. We questioned Mr. Driver regarding the steps his agency must take to evaluate their potential locum tenens candidates.  “We have recruiters that interface with physicians looking for either part time or full time work.  The recruiters obtain copies of their medical licenses, national provider identification (NPI) number and DEA certificates.  They verify every applicant’s specialty with their respective state’s medical board to affirm a clean legal status and then scrutinize their curriculum vita (CV).  Typically, their CV will provide where the physician has worked in the past and what, if any, continuing medical education courses they have taken.  This in-depth investigative work begins to paint a picture of the doctor’s experience and capabilities.

Next we discussed with a physician the benefits of choosing locum tenens versus opening a private practice or perhaps joining a group.  We learned that like most of us, doctors enjoy having choices and through the locum tenens experience, they can explore those choices by working in two or three practices in a geographical area or in different states.  ”They can now determine if they like the area, people, shopping, housing and schools,” states Mr. Driver.  “Also a doctor gets the chance to kick the tires of the practice a bit and make sure the practice offers the type of opportunity and advancement they are looking for.  Remember, when a doctor gets out of medical school, opening a practice is one huge leap into the real world.  Decisions like hiring medical employees, leasing office space and finding your niche in the medical community are not necessarily the decisions a “fresh out of school” doctor is ready to make.  Locum tenens offers options and flexibility in their schedule.”

Now that we understand why physicians may choose to be a locums doctor, we questioned why an existing practice would use a locums company instead of hiring their own additional doctor to see patients, and found that the answer to both questions were very similar. When a practice uses a locum tenens staffing agency, they can call them and offer objective criticism, request to continue with the provider or ask to switch and schedule another provider for shift coverage that may be a better fit. So while many practices do hire their own doctors, once a commitment is made, making a potential change becomes more difficult.  Again, flexibility is a big plus.

We asked Mr. Driver, in his opinion, what is the most common reason that practices utilize a staffing agency.  “A practice called us last year and two of the three doctors in the partnership went on maternity leave at about the same time.  These two lady doctors both planned to take 4 months off and enjoy their babies.  They called us in advance, and we were able to put two female doctors in their practice for a 4 month assignment.  Other situations that occur might be when doctors take vacation, or don’t feel well.  And of course, doctors have to be part of the real world and attend that destination wedding!  We have been in business for over 20 years, and have heard dozens of reasons why practices turn to us for physician support and scheduling.  Though we prefer to schedule in advance, we can usually provide over night solutions to practice scheduling emergencies.  Our office receives calls almost weekly asking if we can supply a physician at their urgent care practice tomorrow.”  About 8 times out of 10, Physician Solutions can accommodate that unexpected assignment.

I was also interested in knowing if agencies handled the placement of traveling nurses as well or any other practice staff positions?  “Some do”, he explained, “while other agencies choose to be very specialized. I can’t imagine a physician staffing agency not having a web presence.  Just perform an online search for locum tenens staffing agencies in your area.  It will be a good place to start. I am certain their websites will provide you with all their placement capabilities.”

Med Monthly would like to thank Mr. Driver and his locum tenens physician for their candid and informative interview.  For additional information, contact Mr. Philip Driver at physiciansolutions.com.

By Monica Menezes Irwin

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