3 Tips To Becoming A Successful Locums Coordinator

3 Tips To Becoming A Successful Locums Coordinator

With 91% of hospitals surveyed reporting usage of locum tenens physicians in 2014, and over 40% of them actively seeking locum services currently (StaffCare 2015 Annual Survey), it is fair to say we have seen the impact of the staffing shortage and there are no signs of letting up anytime soon.  Physician recruiters that we work with agree, the use of locum tenens has transitioned from a “necessary evil” to a “necessary part of our staffing plan”.  Locum tenens costs are now seen as no greater (and often less) than the burgeoning costs of physician recruitment and retention, and if an organization can “outsource” 0.5 or 1 FTE of their Emergency Medicine, Urgent Care, or Hospitalist services to a local float pool of contracted physicians, they will actually save money in doing so long term.  Effective use of locum tenens services is now an essential part of most recruitment professional’s job duties.  Here are 3 “insider” tips from our experiences with the most successful locum coordinators we work with:

  1. Communicate well.  When you are managing a locum tenens need, there are often a lot of moving parts involved in the process and things can change quickly.  It is essential that you have open lines of communication with your favorite staffing suppliers.  Choose vendors who have fast response times, and a single point of contact who can answer all of your needs is preferred.  Telecons should be weekly to start, until candidates are coming in.  Use these conversations to gain feedback from your vendor on the candid responses to your work offerings.  There is a lot that can be learned from listening to your vendor who is talking to perhaps dozens of prospect physicians in your market.  We also like to make the use of SMS messaging (texting) a “barometer” of how well your vendor communicates with you.  Our favorite clients text regularly either to negotiate, approve candidates, ask for more services, report shift changes, etc.
  2. Choose local vendors.  Using staffing suppliers who have a heavy local presence just makes good common sense.  A vendor with more local physicians signed on with their program is able to focus on that group of physicians more intimately.  This is where the larger nationwide companies can’t compete, and often only send you candidates who don’t yet have state license.  In most cases, your needs cannot wait for out of state candidates to make it through the increasingly difficult process of obtaining state licensure.  Vendors with a heavy local presence respond faster and know the market better than much larger ones.
  3. Anticipate your staffing needs as far in advance as possible, and stack the deck when you can.  We have a saying in our office that project coordinators live by: “Does my resource match my need?”  Yours should always be asking themselves this question too.  In fact, a successful coordinator will strive to have as much as two times the covering capability if you want to avoid disasters and expensive bonus payouts to get coverage in times of crisis openings.  We have one client who consistently avoids conversations about their needs and they are the only customer who has to offer mega-bonuses such as $2,000 per shift recently sent out on top of standard pay in order to lure physicians into picking up shifts.  This unhealthy staffing method is ineffective when there are no credentialed providers to even take the shifts and earn these bonuses, even if they wanted to.  A healthy use of locum labor has their shift openings booked out at least 60 days in advance at fair market rates, and has at least 2 times the availability of their estimated need, i.e. freelance physicians capable of working 20 shifts when you only need 10 filled each month.

There you have it, 3 tips on becoming a successful locum tenens coordinator.  If you have a staffing need this year and would like to hire locum tenens physicians, be sure to call Freelance Physician.  We are the largest group of independently practicing locum providers at over 3,000 in every specialty and every state.

Office hours are 8am to 5pm, PST, Monday through Friday.  (855) 646-3546

3 thoughts on “3 Tips To Becoming A Successful Locums Coordinator

    1. Jennings Staley on Reply

      Thanks Dr. Raj for the question. Best thing for any freelancer to do is create your free profile, being sure to list specialty and states of licensure. Then you can browse all of the work opportunities offered currently. By having a profile, you will be alerted to matching work opportunities the moment they are added in an email alert. Hope that answers your question. Feel free to call someone at the office on Monday if needed. Thank you!

  1. Lynne Portnoy, MD on Reply

    Hi, Jennings. I set up an account and password about a year ago. I don’t recall my password. Right now I’d like to fully set up my credentials with Freelance so I’m ready to go in a few months.

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