By: Frank Phillips
This is a very interesting topic. I have been working with locum tenens providers for well over 20 years now. When I first joined this marketplace, I had to educate not only healthcare facilities on what locums was, but also providers themselves. It was a very different time then. Most physicians worked as solo practitioners and locum tenens was used predominantly to cover for vacations or short gaps in coverage. Today, locum tenens has become not only a widely accepted part of healthcare delivery, but a necessity.
Physicians who practice as locum tenens, are no longer suspect to patients or to the facilities that use them. In the old days, I would be asked what was wrong with a physician I was representing. The assumption was that the physician couldn’t get a “real job.” The locum tenens industry has done a good job over the years making certain physicians are not viewed as substandard. The trade association, National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO), has played a large role in this by setting a set of practice standards for all its member organizations.
With a significant provider shortage in today’s healthcare marketplace, the need to supplement provider staff with locum tenens is more important than ever. With a growing number of locum tenens providers in the industry and the overall increased demand for locum tenens, it is no longer about educating healthcare facilities and providers about locum tenens — it’s about providing the facility with the staff they need, when they need it, at a fair value.
Today, locum physicians are oftentimes considered heroes. They fit right into the existing staff and provide quality care to patients. In most cases, patients do not even realize the physician who is treating them is not a permanent member of the facility’s staff.
The reputation of locums employment has indeed changed over the years. The outlook is positive and more and more physicians are turning to locum tenens as a means to practice medicine.
About the author: Frank Phillips is a physician career coach in Atlanta, Georgia. He has over 22 years of experience in the health industry. He was a charter member of NALTO and previously served on the Board of Directors.