Successful Onboarding of Locum Tenens
In the last issue of The Physician Recruiting Standard, we discussed what occurs during the first year of a new physician’s practice impacts their long term success, both personally and professionally. What many healthcare executives overlook, however, is that the first few days and weeks of a temporary physician’s experience in a facility are as critical to their success as the first few weeks and months are to a permanent physician.
The fact that locum tenens physicians are typically engaged to practice for only a few weeks or months at a time, and because when they’re brought in it’s usually because there is an acute need for their services, it’s tempting to show them their work area, make a few introductions, and then turn them loose to see patients within moments of their arrival. You can do that, but you’ll likely find that skipping the step of orienting a new physician might be a “pay me now, or pay me later” situation.
Not investing sufficient time and resources to ensure that a temporary doctor is comfortable in his or her new practice setting and understands the policies and systems that are unique to your facility will result in wasted hours as “orientation” unfolds in dribs and drabs. Aside from the fact that on-the-job onboarding is inefficient, it can result in increased documentation and medical errors, a lower quality of care, and poor patient satisfaction. You can avoid these potential problems by following a few simple steps to successfully onboard and orient locum tenens physicians.
Before the start date.
Prior to a locum tenens practitioner’s start date, help them become familiar with your area by sending a packet of information and/or links to websites that describe what the community has to offer. Make sure they know what to expect in terms of where they’ll be living while they’re with you, and how to find their new abode when they get into town.
A warm welcome.
A locum tenens physician should know in advance whom to ask for when they arrive at your facility. Let the front desk receptionist and other key staff know that a new doctor is coming in to practice, and have a designated individual ready to welcome the physician, provide a facility tour, and share basic information such as where to park, how to get a security badge, and where to find a cup of coffee.
Orientation: formal or informal?
You’ll need to decide (or facility policy may decide this for you), whether to conduct a formal or informal orientation. You may wish for your temporary physician to engage in the usual day-long employee orientation required for all new staff members, or you might opt to turn the temporary doctor over to a department manager or supervising physician for a less formal, but still comprehensive, one-on-one orientation.
Attention to detail.
In addition to ensuring that a new physician is trained on how to use the electronic medical records system, can find supplies and equipment, and knows the chain of command within the department, simple things like providing a directory of internal telephone extensions, printing out a copy of the schedule so they have a sense of the patient load for the day, or making sure they have scrubs that fit will all help your locum tenens doctor stay focused on providing quality care.
Assign a “go to” person.
Introduce your locum tenens physician to one point person who has the breadth of knowledge to answer the wide variety of questions that will inevitably arise during the practitioner’s time with you. Choose someone personable who has worked in the organization for several years and who can offer advice on simple personal issues like which dry cleaner to use and where the locals go for the best Italian food or most adventurous hiking.
Taking the time to properly onboard locum tenens physicians is a good investment, whether you plan to have a temporary doctor on site for a few weeks or you’re trying to woo them to stay on permanently after their temporary assignment is complete. Remember, too, that once a locums is familiar with your facility and community as a result of your good planning and work, you can save time and resources by requesting that doctor again the next time you have coverage needs.
Placements & Interviews
Placement Data by Specialty
This data represents average statistics of placements and interviews by Delta Physician Placement over the twelve-month survey period. Since these averages only include placements and interviews, the compensation information presented indicates the rate at which candidates are choosing to interview or sign. Average days information can be used to forecast a probable timeline for a recruitment effort in a particular specialty.
|Average Compensation||Average Days|
|Starting Compensation||Sign-on Bonus||Total Annual Compensation||From Interview to Placement||Total Placements||Fastest Days-to-Fill|
|Oncology ||$407,415 ||$31,666 ||$680,000 ||43 ||108 ||38 |
Placements by Population
Nationwide Search Distribution
Specialty Demand Comparison
|3rd Quarter 2011||3rd Quarter 2010|
|1.||Family Medicine ||Family Medicine|
|2.||Internal Medicine||Internal Medicine|
|5.||General Surgery||Orthopedic Surgery|
|7.||Orthopedic Surgery ||Cardiology|
|8.||Obstetrics/Gynecology ||Emergency Medicine|
|13.||PM&R||Pulmonary Critical Care|
Search Specialty Distribution
|Top 5 States Providers Have |
Taken New Opportunities
|Specialty||Number of Days|
Nationwide Physician Distribution
|Lowest Average |
to Close Credentialing
|Number of Days||Highest Average |
to Close Credentialing
|Number of Days|
to complete a file