Taking a Break

January 1, 2009

I’m a solo practitioner and want to take two to four weeks off. I need to hire someone to see my patients and “mind the store” while I’m gone. A friend told me it would be about $1,500 a day to hire a locum tenens. That sounds like a lot. Could I hire a physician assistant and have a local colleague “be available” on call to provide back-up?

Question: I’m a solo practitioner and want to take two to four weeks off. I need to hire someone to see my patients and “mind the store” while I’m gone. A friend told me it would be about $1,500 a day to hire a locum tenens. That sounds like a lot. Could I hire a physician assistant and have a local colleague “be available” on call to provide back-up?

Answer: You need to look at the big picture. $1,500 isn’t cheap, but do make sure this is actually what you’d need to pay in your specialty and area. A quick call to a couple placement services are in order.

Still, your collections would presumably top this amount and if you come out right side up - if your revenue would still top your overhead - any profit you make in this period is just gravy, money you otherwise wouldn’t have at all.

You’d have to pay a PA as well. His or her services would be limited to their scope of service so this would not provide much help to your patients or your collections.

You could just close the office. Depending on your staff and your contracts with them you could conceivably just offer them a free or reduced paid time off and slash your overhead. Or, have them take on some huge but necessary task like scanning charts into an EMR.

Check with your malpractice carrier about what to do to arrange emergency coverage for patients under your care during that time.