For the past few years, I worked in a variety of locum tenens positions at some of the most prestigious hospitals in the country.
During this time, I learned some lessons, so here are some tips to consider when choosing a locum tenens company you want to work with.
While it can be challenging to avoid frustration with the inefficiency of some companies, I want to help doctors who might be looking at locum tenens positions to make this process as easy as possible.
Big is not always best
You will see that a few companies advertise a lot, but big isn’t necessarily better, so be aware of that.
They often call you, send you lots of e-mails and have ads on virtually every website, but they don’t necessarily offer the best service.
They tend to suffer from high overheads, and the cost of constant advertising means that hourly rates can be lower. Sometimes smaller companies can be more efficient.
Can they meet your needs?
As a doctor, ensure that your basic expectations will be met. You can sometimes get rates from smaller companies that larger companies can’t afford.
Also, patient safety should always come first and you must be able to request certain conditions.
If you don’t like something, make sure that it is included in your contract. But remember that there might a shortage of hospitals and doctors in the area.
Be clear and set a limit on the daily number of patients that you will deal with and for the time between appointments.
Remember that the company benefits if you work for them and they want to pass your professional resume to as many hospitals as they can. It sounds as though it’s in your interest, but maybe it’s not and you need to protect yourself.
If you decide to work with a company that sends you to hospitals, make sure any contract that you sign with that company states that it is only for a specific time.
If for any reason, you don’t like them or the work and they offer you more work at the same hospital, then you won’t need to work for them after the time stated in the contract.
Don’t be afraid to change, if necessary
Recruiters can be your best advocates and need to act in your best interest, not only for the company.
It is best to have a recruiter who will take care of all the planning and negotiations for you. If you don’t have the best relationship, switch to a different recruiter within the same company, or a different company, and make sure they realise why you are doing that.
Working as a locum doctor is a good experience, and many patients are used to it. It’s empowering and enjoyable once you find your feet.
It’s one of those opportunities where it’s possible to decide where and when you want to work, choose the terms of work, and receive better pay, all while doing something you are passionate about.