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How Physicians Can Take a Vacation


When you're running a practice, there are plenty of things that get in the way of a vacation. That's where a locum tenens physician comes in.

The snow hasn't even melted in Salt Lake City and I've already got spring fever. In fact, I'm not just looking forward to spring, I'm thinking about summer. I've made my vacation plans and the flights are booked. I'm ready to go!

Even if you love your job, it's important to take some time for yourself. We all know that physician burnout is on the rise - but not every doctor is affected by it. According the 2015 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report, 70 percent of physicians who reported they were not burned out indicated they took more than two weeks of vacation a year.

Easier said than done, right? When you're running a practice, there are plenty of things that get in the way of a vacation. There are patients and staff that need you. And of course, if you're not working, you're not getting paid.

That's where locum tenens come in.

How to hire a locum tenens physician

Locum tenens physicians are available in virtually every specialty and take assignments ranging from a single shift to months at a time. Not only can they make sure your patients can still receive care but they help bring revenue into the practice while you're away.

Here's how to do it:

1. Find an agency to work with.

There are several large locum tenens companies and dozens and dozens of smaller locum agencies. The National Organization for Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) has a lot of good resources for what to look for in an agency. It's important to work with a company with access to many doctors in your specialty and who has a good track record of protecting practices.

2. Let them know what you're looking for.

Once you contact an agency, you'll be asked to describe what you're looking for - the type of doctor you want, the duration of the assignment, the expected schedule, the types of patients that will be seen, etc. You'll also discuss pricing and work on a contract.

3. Make a match.

Once the agency understands the job description, they'll reach out to their physician clients to find doctors who fit your profile. They'll present you with information about doctors who are interested in the assignment and include CVs, reference letters, and additional credentials.

4.Choose the right doctor.

Once you've been presented your options, you can set up an interview with the potential candidates via phone, Skype, or in person to find the physician who is the right fit for your practice.

5. Let the agency take care of the details.

A good locum tenens company will make all the arrangements for the physician's travel, housing, credentialing, licensing, hospital privileging, and malpractice insurance. That means that locum tenens physician will show up ready to work.

6. Onboard the new doctor.

Make sure someone is there to quickly show the locum tenens physician the ropes. Seasoned locum tenens pros are used to jumping into new situations and will likely be comfortable working with your EHR. Here a few tips for successfully onboarding a new physician.

7. Bill for services.

Make sure to bill private payers, Medicaid, and Medicare for services performed by the locum tenens physician. (Here's a quick guide.) The locum agency will bill you for the locum's time and will take care of paying him.

8. Offer feedback.

After the assignment ends, you'll have the opportunity to evaluate the locum's performance as well as the support provided by the agency.

Summer's right around the corner. Do yourself a favor and take some time off. Hire a locum tenens physician while you are away and enjoy a stress-free vacation. You've earned it.

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