By Tiffany Anderson
Are you interested in a locum tenens assignment? Are you overwhelmed by the number of locum staffing agencies to choose from? More often than not, medical providers are hiring locum physicians out of necessity and are forking out big bucks to find qualified professionals. Offices and organizations may work with multiple recruiters and staffing agencies who are paid to qualify leads and fill job openings–driving them to compete for your skills and experience. Below are some things to consider when choosing a staffing agency and negotiating your contract terms.
How do you find out if a locums placement agency is reputable? Start by checking to see if they’re a member of the National Association of Locum Tenens Organization (NALTO). NALTO helps set industry standards and ethical guidelines for locum recruiters while offering continuing education services and networking forums for locum tenens and recruiters alike. You should also check out the company’s website, ask for references from locum tenens who have already worked with the company, and contact several other agencies to compare work practices.
The recruiting agency will be able to provide you with a written detailed report of your role and responsibilities, hours, work environment, work schedule, on-call schedule, etc. Make sure you have all the information you need and develop a solid understanding of the assignment and contractual details. Negotiate terms suited to your needs and to guarantee a healthy work-life balance.
Don’t be afraid to talk numbers. Due to the demand, you are more likely to negotiate a higher rate. However, the rate will vary from agency to agency depending on cost of living as well as other benefits and incidentals that may be included in your contract. Also, don’t forget to ask the pay frequency!
Travel and Meal Expenses
Some locums agencies offer to pay your travel or meal expenses. This may include expenses to and from your locums assignment, a car rental for your daily commute, and/or a daily stipend to feed yourself while on duty. Ask the locums recruiters which expenses are covered and/or reimbursed.
Many staffing companies offer housing at no extra cost to you. Find out where you will be staying and ask for as much information you can possibly get to ensure your stay from home is clean and comfortable. Housing may be determined by the length of stay (e.g. motels/hotels for shorter term assignments and apartments/condos for a longer term) It also doesn’t hurt to ask what sort of backup plan is set in place in case the accommodations are not up to par.
It is important that you have medical malpractice insurance. Most organizations provide a ‘claims-made’ policy which covers a physician for all incidents that occur and are reported during the active period of the policy. Many malpractice claims are made well after the incident and would not be covered under the claims-made policy unless the staffing agency purchases an extended reporting endorsement, or ‘tail’ coverage. Be sure to get a copy of the policy to read and understand all the details of the agency’s coverage.
Licensing and Credentials Assistance
As a locum tenens physician, you will receive the most job offers if you are licensed in multiple states. Many prime staffing agencies will handle the paperwork for you so you don’t have to–saving you time and headaches.
What happens if you get to your assignment and it is nothing like you thought or were told it would be? A termination clause allows you a window of opportunity to get out of the contract arrangement so that you can move on to something that is more suitable to your needs.
The best staffing agencies are the ones you can trust. You’ll know the right locum recruiter when they go above and beyond expectations to land you the perfect locum assignment. It is also important that they touch base with you along the way to make sure that things are going smoothly. Communication is a two way street so be clear about your needs and what you are looking for and if there are any change of plans during your locum tenens tenure.