Docs must gauge an agency's ability to find the right jobs in the right places.
This article first appeared April 03, 2018 on Medpage Today.
By Bill Heller
More than 40,000 physicians work locum tenens each year, and the vast majority find their assignments through a locum tenens agency. Because there are dozens of locum tenens companies out there, a lot of people ask me what makes them different or how to choose the right one.
From small mom-and-pop shops to large corporations, each locums agency has strengths and weaknesses that are important to consider. Thankfully, most people in our industry genuinely care about their providers and want to provide a great experience for them.
So it becomes a question of helping physicians narrow in on the choice that's right for them. This extends beyond finding a friendly locum tenens recruiter; physicians must also gauge the ability of the agency to find the right jobs in the right places while handling all the essential details for that assignment.
Here's a few tips.
Find an agency that upholds industry standards: A great place to start is NALTO membership (National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations). An agency that's an active member of NALTO indicates adherence to a set of standards and practices for professional conduct outlined by an independent industry organization. A good standing with NALTO offers a level of confidence the agency is reputable.
Your agency should be able to take care of all the details: Being a staffing agency is more than just having a job board. It's the services that truly set apart the premier partners. That's why I always encourage asking about key services, including credentialing, contract negotiations, and travel and housing. Not all agencies do it all. Finding out too late they don't do credentialing, or don't have the connections to get it done in a timely manner, can have a serious impact on that placement. Additionally, an agency that manages the transportation and living arrangements for assignments means you can focus on care, not searching for accommodations.
You need someone who takes care of licensing and privileging: The draw for many physicians to work locum tenens is traveling. That means working in states they might not already be licensed. The more reputable staffing agencies have teams dedicated to helping providers obtain state licenses and hospital privileges before taking locum tenens assignments. These teams build relationships with state boards and facilities throughout the country. This helps providers navigate the process much more quickly.
Your recruiter should understand your specialty: The person who tries to do everything will likely succeed at nothing. That's why I advise providers to ask about specialization. It seems like a no-brainer, but different specialties are different in more than just title. The job process for one specialty may not apply to another. A dedicated, or specialized, consultant will be better able to speak the language, understand the intricacies of the specialty, and know the right people in a desired location.
Don't forget to ask about malpractice insurance: Working locum tenens comes with its own set of considerations. One important matter is knowing who covers malpractice insurance. Make sure your agency protects you while on assignment with malpractice insurance coverage. Discuss whether the policy is comprehensive, if charges are associated, and if it covers any incident that may occur while you work for them, even after the assignment ends.
The bottom line is that you need to find an agency that is as good at their job as you are at yours. Knowing the right things to look for can make it easier to know if you've found the right agency for you and your goals.