Ethical Guidelines for Agencies and Physicians

What to expect from a locum tenens agency 

Many locum tenens agencies have various selling points and marketing strategies to convince physicians to work for them. However, what it all boils down to is ethical standards. Like any business transaction, ethics should be what guides the interactions within an agency. The following is an outline of basic ethical standards agencies should adhere to.

A recruiter should never present a physician’s name or CV for a placement without explicit consent. This means the recruiter should provide enough details about the potential opportunity for a physician to decide if it is worth being considered for. This does not necessarily mean the physician needs to know the nitty-gritty details about the contract, however it should give enough information to make a physician agreeable to a potential contract with the facility, upon acceptance.

A recruiter should never suggest leaving an assignment within the standard 30 day cancellation period to take on another assignment with his or her agency instead. This is a breech of ethics in the locum tenens industry and is an understood and implied “law” between agencies.

What to expect from a locum tenens physician

Physicians are also expected to adhere to ethical guidelines as well. If a physician is presented to the same assignment by two or more different agencies, the physician must provide services through the agency that presented the physician first (assuming the physician accepts). It is helpful to keep track of agencies, date of contact and locations to avoid mix-ups.

Do not pit one agency against the other to receive better pay or perks. Agencies do communicate and even if a physician is accepted to work through an agency after exhibiting this type of behavior, it is most likely that both agencies involved will not offer future assignments to the physician once the assignment has ended.

Be aware of non-compete clauses. If a physician provides services through one agency and another agency contacts the physician to go to that same location at a later date, inform the second agency about the previous work assignment. Most contract clauses prevent the physician from working at the same facility through a different agency within a certain period of time.

Physicians should avoid discussing pay, especially if a facility has other locum tenens physicians. If a physician is receiving higher pay, a physician can use the knowledge to negotiate a future contract, however the existing contract will not be changed due to another physician’s higher pay rate.

Like other industries, the locum tenens industry operates on good standards and word-of-mouth. It is important for both physicians and agencies to adhere to high standards to keep professional relationships longstanding and satisfying. When a physician or agency operates with sub par standards, it is usually quickly discovered. For more information or to report a breach of ethics, visit the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations’ website (NALTO).