How to prepare for locum tenens physicians

June 27, 2019

Here are four ways practice owners and administrators can ensure temporary employees are successful.

Locum tenens physicians want to find work. Healthcare administrators are looking for new talent to fill their coverage needs. Both physicians and administrators share the same goal of onboarding as quickly as possible with the least amount of hassle.

Practice owners and administrators have a vital role to play in preparing new hires, but it isn’t as onerous as you might think. They can standardize and streamline the onboarding process by prioritizing relevant procedures, policies and paperwork.
Here are four ways to help set up locum physicians for success at your facility.

 

1. Provide rapid and high-impact locum tenens orientation.

Throughout their education, physicians have had to rapidly acquire information. (If in doubt, ask one about the “see one, do one, teach one” model of learning.) As a result, orientation does not need to be a time-intensive process.

On the first day, locum tenens physicians need to know where to park, where to report and where key departments are located. Someone at the facility should be tasked with introducing the locum tenens provider to colleagues, nurses and other staff in their immediate work area. Unless the locum tenens is required to respond to codes, a detailed map of the entire facility can suffice instead of a formal tour, although this can be helpful if time allows.

 

2. Streamline credentialing and IT training.

Systems research from the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment has revealed that one of the main delays in onboarding locum tenens physicians is the credentialing process. Locum tenens physicians, and even new permanent hires, spend a considerable amount of time obtaining the identification, IT credentials and passwords required to do their jobs.

To speed the process along, administrators can ensure that as much of the credentialing process is completed before locum tenens physicians arrive on site. Clearly communicate with your locum tenens agency in the months leading up to the assignment, so they can do the heavy lifting for you with regards to document preparation, background checks, drugs tests, immunization records and so forth.

Ideally, the Day One administrative process should be as easy as taking a picture for an ID badge and picking up an orientation packet. Pagers, key codes and all relevant logins and initial passwords should be included in the locum tenens’ orientation packet.

You may think assigning an IT professional to teach locum tenens physicians the ins and outs of your EHR is helpful but, in general, it’s not. IT-led EHR trainings are usually too detailed and exhaustive for most locum tenens physicians.

Instead, ask colleagues on a particular service if they would be willing to give locum tenens physicians a crash course on the system. This 30-minute primer should focus on the screens that are important for physicians’ work, including how to write orders and electronic prescriptions, how to write/dictate notes and how to access lab and radiology results. Staff physicians and non-physician providers are usually willing to help, and the process is faster and less frustrating if the IT department is not directly involved.

Read more: Seven tips for faster credentialing

 

3. Prepare an extensive, but concise, orientation packet.

Practice owners and administrators do not need to spend several days orienting locum tenens physicians for them to be successful. However, it is important to create a comprehensive and somewhat personalized orientation packet for each locum tenens physician. These temporary employees must have a set of resources available to reference when questions inevitably arise.

At a minimum, a welcome packet should include:

  • A detailed map of the facility, including where to park and get food;

  • A map of the area surrounding the facility;

  • Personalized credentials and IT logins;

  • A pocket-sized directory with numbers for all departments, units and facilities; and

  • Cheat sheets for key automated services, such as dictation, paging, EHR and physician orders.

 

4. Treat locum tenens physicians like an extension of your team.

Seamless integration and continuity of care is of the utmost importance, so locum physicians should be involved in teaming care.

Include locum tenens physicians in meetings. Make sure they are added to any relevant group email threads. Extend an invite to any celebrations, birthday parties, team lunches or after-hours events, too. Although they may only be at your practice for a short time, locum tenens physicians are an integral part of making your practice run smoothly and making your patients feel cared for, both now and long after they’re gone.

Locum tenens physicians are ultimately an extension of your team, improving patient care and positively impacting the way your practice runs. Practice owners and administrators who set up their new locum tenens for success can immediately improve team functionality. They will be able to get locum tenens physicians working on the floor faster, saving time and reducing frustration for everyone involved.

For additional best practices, reach out to your NALTO member agency.

Lauren Kellum is the marketing leader for NEXTLocums, a division of Health Carousel, where she is responsible for marketing strategy and implementation for three locum tenens brands.