Physicians considering a locum tenens gig have several misconceptions about the position and the process. However, surveys show healthcare administrators also have their own unique set of concerns when it comes to hiring locum tenens. We debunk the top five locum tenens myths that healthcare administrators commonly share.
Myth 1: Locum tenens physicians are usually less qualified than staff physicians are.
This is certainly not the case. Locum tenens physicians meet all the same qualifications that staff physicians do. In fact, the excitement and varied experiences provided by locum tenens work often attract some of the highest quality physicians. From the physician’s perspective, locum tenens is a great way to get extra hours and subsidize travel without necessarily signing on for a long-term commitment to a given organization.
Myth 2: Locum tenens is an HR nightmare
Modern locum tenens agencies take most of the hassle out of on-boarding new locum tenens physicians. Bringing on a locum tenens doctor is actually less onerous than hiring a staff doctor, when you consider the various negotiations and benefits required for the latter and not the former.
Myth 3: Locum tenens physicians will not be accepted by my current staff
The practice of modern medicine is one of staff rotations and shift work. From internship through residency, from work as a fellow to becoming an attending, faces change as often as the turn of the calendar page. This construct works because physicians are trained to practice multidisciplinary, team-based medicine. As long as the team is filled with competent individuals, physicians know how to work with one another to provide excellent patient care. Personality conflicts can happen among any two people, but it is certainly not true that locum tenens physicians and existing hospital staff will inherently be it at odds.
Myth 4: Locum tenens physicians are never interested in a full-time position
While it is true that some locum tenens physicians are simply looking for a short-term gig, a large number are actually open to offers for long-term work. Early career physicians, for example, often use locum tenens work as a bridge between residency or fellowship and a full-time staff position. Healthcare administrators can sometimes use locum tenens as an audition. If you happen to get a rising superstar (and many locum tenens physicians end up being stars), make an offer. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Myth 5: Locum tenens physicians are less committed to patient care
This is such an unfortunate and grossly incorrect myth, because it broadly mischaracterizes locum tenens physicians. Physicians who perform locum tenens work usually seek exposure to different environments, different cultures, and different patient populations. For them, it is a learning experience and a chance to expand their practice and skills. This pursuit comes from a place of altruism. Just like most other physicians, locum tenens physicians want to help people and are extremely committed to patient care.