Locum tenens refers to the practice of temporarily filling a vacant position in a healthcare facility by a qualified professional. Locum tenens is a growing trend in the healthcare industry, as it offers many benefits for both the facilities and the professionals. For the facilities, locum tenens help them cope with staff shortages, seasonal fluctuations, maternity leaves, or special projects. For professionals, locum tenens provides them with flexibility, variety, autonomy, and opportunities to learn new skills and explore new locations.
Preparing for your first locum tenens assignment can be daunting, especially if you are not familiar with the process and the expectations. That is why we have created this article to guide you through the preparation process and help you make the most of your locum tenens experience. In this article, we will cover the following topics:
- Understanding your assignment
- Credentialing and paperwork
- Financial Considerations
- Housing and travel arrangements
- Preparing for the clinical work
By following these steps, you will be able to prepare for your first locum tenens assignment with confidence and ease.
The first step to preparing for your locum tenens assignment is to understand the details and the expectations of your assignment. This will help you avoid any surprises or misunderstandings during your assignment and ensure that you are a good fit for the position. Here are some things you should do to understand your assignment:
- Research the healthcare facility. Before you accept an assignment, you should do some research on the healthcare facility where you will be working. Use online resources, such as the facility’s website, social media, reviews, or news articles, to learn more about its history, mission, vision, values, culture, reputation, and performance. Contact the facility directly and ask questions about its policies, procedures, equipment, staff, and patient population. This will help you get a sense of the work environment and the expectations of the facility.
- Understand the expectations. Once you accept an assignment, you should review the contract carefully and make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your assignment. Pay attention to the details, such as the start and end dates, the hours, the compensation, the benefits, the malpractice coverage, the cancellation policy, and the scope of practice. Clarify any questions or concerns you may have with your recruiter or the facility manager. It helps you to avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings during your assignment and ensure that you meet the expectations of the facility and the patients.
- Familiarize yourself with the patient demographics. Another important aspect of understanding your assignment is to familiarize yourself with the patient demographics of the facility. Learn about the age, gender, ethnicity, language, culture, health conditions, and preferences of the patients you will be serving. This will help you tailor your care and communication to the needs and expectations of the patients and improve your patient satisfaction and outcomes.
- Learn about the local healthcare regulations. Finally, you should learn about the local healthcare regulations and standards that apply to your assignment. Be aware of the licensing, credentialing, privileging, and prescribing requirements of the state or country where you will be working. You should also be familiar with the local laws, ethics, and best practices that govern your profession and specialty. This will help you comply with the regulations and standards and avoid any legal or ethical issues during your assignment.
The next step to preparing for your locum tenens assignment is to complete the credentialing and paperwork process. Credentialing is the process of verifying your qualifications, such as your education, training, certification, licensure, and experience, to ensure that you are eligible and competent to practice in a certain facility or specialty. The paperwork process involves filling out and submitting various forms and documents, such as your resume, references, background check, drug test, immunization records, and tax forms, to finalize your contract and payment. Credentialing and paperwork are essential steps to securing your locum tenens assignment and getting paid for your work. Here are some tips to help you with the credentialing and paperwork process:
- Importance of proper credentialing. Credentialing is not only a requirement for locum tenens assignments, but also a way to protect yourself, the facility, and the patients. By completing the credentialing process, you can ensure that you have the necessary qualifications and skills to provide safe and quality care to the patients. You can also avoid any liability or malpractice issues that may arise from your practice. Moreover, credentialing can help you boost your reputation and credibility as a locum tenens professional and increase your chances of getting more assignments in the future.
- Gathering necessary documents. To complete the credentialing and paperwork process, you will need to gather and provide various documents that prove your identity, education, training, certification, licensure, and experience. Some of the common documents you will need are:
- A copy of your passport or driver’s license
- A copy of your diploma or transcript
- A copy of your board certification or specialty certification
- A copy of your state or federal license
- A copy of your DEA registration or NPI number
- A copy of your malpractice insurance or claims history
- A copy of your CV or resume
- A list of your references or letters of recommendation
- A copy of your background check or drug test results
- A copy of your immunization records or health clearance
- A copy of your tax forms or W-9
- Make sure that your documents are up-to-date, accurate, and complete. Keep a digital and physical copy of your documents for your records and convenience.
- Understanding the paperwork process. The paperwork process may vary depending on the facility, the recruiter, and the assignment. However, the general steps are:
- You fill out and sign the contract and the forms provided by the recruiter or the facility.
- You submit the contract and the forms along with the required documents to the recruiter or the facility.
- The recruiter or the facility reviews and verifies your contract, forms, and documents.
- The recruiter or the facility approves your contract, forms, and documents and sends you a confirmation.
- You receive your confirmation and start your assignment.
- Follow the instructions and deadlines given by the recruiter or the facility and communicate with them regularly throughout the paperwork process. Review your contract and forms carefully and make sure you understand and agree with the terms and conditions before signing them.
- Tips for efficient and timely paperwork completion. The paperwork process can be time-consuming and tedious, but it is necessary and important for your locum tenens assignment. Here are some tips to help you complete the paperwork process efficiently and timely:
- Start the paperwork process as soon as possible after accepting an assignment. This will give you enough time to gather and submit your documents and avoid any delays or complications.
- Organize your documents and forms in a folder or a file and label them clearly. It helps you keep track of your documents and forms and find them easily when needed.
- Use online tools and platforms, such as email, cloud storage, or electronic signature, to send and receive your documents and forms. This saves you time and money and reduces the risk of losing or damaging your documents and forms.
- Check your email and phone regularly and respond to any requests or queries from the recruiter or the facility promptly. Try to maintain a good relationship and communication with the recruiter or the facility to speed up the paperwork process.
Another step to preparing for your locum tenens assignment is to consider the financial aspects of your assignment. Locum tenens assignments can offer attractive compensation and benefits, such as competitive rates, travel and housing allowances, malpractice coverage, and bonuses. However, locum tenens assignments can also involve some expenses and responsibilities, such as taxes, insurance, and budgeting. Therefore, it is important to understand the financial considerations of your assignment and plan accordingly. Here are some things you should do to manage your finances during your locum tenens assignment:
- Understanding the payment structure. The payment structure of your locum tenens assignment may depend on several factors, such as the facility, the recruiter, the specialty, the location, the duration, and the demand of your assignment. Some of the common payment structures are:
- Hourly rate: You are paid by the hour for the hours you work.
- Daily rate: You are paid by the day for the days you work.
- Weekly rate: You are paid by the week for the weeks you work.
- Monthly rate: You are paid by the month for the months you work.
- Flat rate: You are paid a fixed amount for the entire assignment.
- You should review your contract and make sure you understand how and when you will be paid for your work. Ask about any additional compensation or benefits, such as travel and housing allowances, malpractice coverage, or bonuses, that you may be eligible for. Inquire about any deductions or fees, such as taxes, insurance, or administrative costs, that may be applied to your payment.
- Budgeting for the assignment. Budgeting for your locum tenens assignment is a smart way to manage your finances and avoid any financial stress or surprises. You should create a realistic and detailed budget that accounts for your income and expenses during your assignment. Some of the common income and expenses are:
- Income: Your payment, travel and housing allowances, malpractice coverage, bonuses, and any other sources of income.
- Expenses: Your taxes, insurance, travel and housing costs, food and groceries, utilities, entertainment, and any other personal or professional expenses.
- Track your income and expenses regularly and adjust your budget accordingly. Set aside some money for savings, emergencies, or future goals. You can use online tools or apps, such as Mint, Quicken, or YNAB, to help you with your budgeting and financial planning.
- Discussing financial matters with the recruiter. Your recruiter can be a valuable resource and partner for your financial matters during your locum tenens assignment. Communicate with your recruiter openly and honestly about your financial expectations, needs, and concerns. Ask your recruiter for any advice or assistance regarding your payment, taxes, insurance, or budgeting.
- Managing taxes and insurance. Taxes and insurance are two important and complex aspects of your finances that you should pay attention to during your locum tenens assignment. Here are some tips to help you manage your taxes and insurance:
- Taxes: As a locum tenens professional, you are considered an independent contractor and responsible for paying your taxes. Be aware of the federal, state, and local tax laws and rates that apply to your income and expenses. You should also keep track of your receipts and records for tax purposes. Consult a tax professional or use online tools or software, such as TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct, to help you file your taxes correctly and timely.
- Insurance: You may not be eligible for the same insurance benefits as a regular employee. Review your contract and make sure you understand what kind of insurance coverage you have and what kind of insurance coverage you need. Compare and shop for the best insurance plans and rates for your health, dental, vision, life, disability, and liability insurance. You can use online tools or platforms, such as eHealth, HealthCare.gov, or Policygenius, to help you find and enroll in the best insurance plans for your needs.
Another step to preparing for your locum tenens assignment is to make your housing and travel arrangements. Housing and travel arrangements are essential for your comfort and convenience during your assignment. Plan and book your housing and travel arrangements in advance and according to your preferences and budget. Here are some things you should do to make your housing and travel arrangements:
- Exploring housing options. There are various housing options available for locum tenens professionals, such as hotels, motels, apartments, condos, houses, or RVs. Explore and compare the different housing options and choose the one that suits your needs and wants. Consider factors such as the location, size, amenities, safety, and cost of the housing option. Check the availability, reviews, and policies of the housing option. Use online tools or platforms, such as Airbnb, VRBO, or Furnished Finder, to help you find and book your housing option.
- Making travel arrangements. Here are many travel options available for locum tenens professionals, such as flights, trains, buses, or cars. Choose the travel option that is the most convenient, comfortable, and affordable for you. You should consider factors such as the distance, time, frequency, and cost of the travel option. Check the availability, reviews, and policies of the travel option. You can use online tools or platforms, such as Expedia, Kayak, or Skyscanner, to help you find and book your travel options.
- Packing essentials for the assignment. Packing essentials for your locum tenens assignment is a way to ensure that you have everything you need and want during your assignment. Pack your essentials according to the duration, location, climate, and activities of your assignment. You should pack your essentials according to your personal and professional needs and preferences. Some of the common essentials you should pack are:
- Personal items: Your clothing, shoes, accessories, toiletries, medications, and any other personal items you use or need daily.
- Professional items: Your documents, forms, laptop, phone, charger, and any other professional items you use or need for your work.
- Entertainment items: Your books, music, games, hobbies, and any other entertainment items you use or enjoy in your free time.
- Emergency items: Your passport, driver’s license, insurance card, credit card, cash, and any other emergency items you may need in case of an emergency.
- Pack your essentials in an organized and efficient way. You should also pack your essentials securely and durably. You can use online tools or apps, such as PackPoint, TripList, or Packr, to help you create and manage your packing list.
- Considering family and pets. If you have a family or pets, consider how to take care of them during your locum tenens assignment. You have several options, such as:
- Taking them with you: You can take your family or pets with you to your locum tenens assignment, if the facility, the housing, and the travel options allow it. This can be a great way to spend quality time with your loved ones and explore new places together. However, you should also consider the costs, logistics, and challenges of taking them with you, such as finding suitable housing, travel, and childcare or pet care options, adjusting to the new environment and schedule, and balancing your work and family or pet responsibilities.
- Leaving them at home: You can leave your family or pets at home during your locum tenens assignment, if you have someone reliable and trustworthy to take care of them, such as a spouse, a relative, a friend, or a professional. This can be a convenient and cost-effective way to ensure that your loved ones are safe and comfortable at home. Consider the emotional and social impact of leaving them at home, such as missing them, feeling guilty, or losing touch with them.
- Finding a middle ground: You can find a middle ground between taking them with you and leaving them at home, such as visiting them or having them visit you during your locum tenens assignment, if the distance, time, and budget allow it. This can be a good way to maintain your connection and communication with your loved ones and enjoy some time together.
Discuss and decide with your family what option is the best for you and them. Communicate and update them regularly and frequently during your locum tenens assignment. You can use online tools or apps, such as Skype, WhatsApp, or FaceTime, to help you stay in touch with your family or pets.
Another step to preparing for your locum tenens assignment is to prepare for the clinical work. Preparing for the clinical work is crucial for your performance and satisfaction during your assignment. Prepare for the clinical work by refreshing your medical knowledge, understanding the facility’s EHR system, communicating with other healthcare professionals, and setting personal performance goals. Here are some things you should do to prepare for the clinical work:
- Brushing up relevant medical knowledge. As a locum tenens professional, you may encounter different or unfamiliar medical cases, procedures, or protocols during your assignment. Brush up on your relevant medical knowledge and skills before and during your assignment. Review the latest guidelines, research, and best practices related to your specialty and the patient population you will be serving. Practice or learn any new or advanced techniques or technologies that you may need or use during your assignment. You can use online tools or resources, such as UpToDate, Medscape, or NEJM, to help you update and improve your medical knowledge and skills.
- Understanding the facility’s EHR system. In some cases, you might have to use a different or unfamiliar EHR system during your assignment. You should understand the facility’s EHR system and how to use it effectively and efficiently. Learn about the features, functions, and workflows of the EHR system. Familiarize yourself with the policies, procedures, and standards of the EHR system. You can ask for training or a demonstration of the EHR system from the facility before or during your assignment. You can also use online tools or guides, such as Epic, Cerner, or Meditech, to help you learn and use the EHR system.
- Communicating with other healthcare professionals. Being a locum tenens professional, you may have to work with different or unfamiliar healthcare professionals during your assignment. Communicate with other healthcare professionals and establish a good rapport and collaboration with them. Introduce yourself and explain your role and responsibilities to them. Listen to and respect their opinions and feedback. Share your expertise and experience with them. Use effective and appropriate communication tools and techniques, such as SBAR, handoffs, huddles, or rounds, to ensure clear and consistent communication and coordination of care. You can use online tools or resources, such as TeamSTEPPS, AHRQ, or IHI, to help you improve your communication and teamwork skills.
- Setting personal performance goals. When setting personal performance goals, you may have different or higher performance expectations during your assignment. Identify and prioritize your professional strengths and areas of improvement. Define and measure your desired outcomes and indicators of success. Seek and incorporate feedback and guidance from your peers, mentors, or supervisors. Celebrate and reward your achievements and learn from your challenges. You can use online tools or frameworks, such as SMART, OKR, or KPI, to help you set and track your personal performance goals.
Locum tenens is a rewarding and exciting way to practice medicine and advance your career. However, it also requires careful and thorough preparation to ensure a successful and satisfying assignment. In this article, we have discussed the steps and tips to help you prepare for your first locum tenens assignment, such as:
- Understanding your assignment
- Credentialing and paperwork
- Financial Considerations
- Housing and travel arrangements
- Preparing for the clinical work
By following these steps, you will be able to overcome the challenges and enjoy the benefits of locum tenens. You will also be able to provide high-quality and compassionate care to the patients and communities you serve. We hope that this article has been helpful and informative for you and that you are ready to embark on your first locum tenens assignment. We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing from you soon.