As a result of our aging population, the substantial number of physicians approaching retirement, and several other factors, the demand for doctors continues to intensify. Many communities—particularly those in rural areas—are already experiencing a shortage of primary and specialty care clinicians. And a 2015 study commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the United States will face a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025.
Consequently, opportunities for locum tenens providers abound. However, if you find an assignment appealing, rest assured other clinicians with similar experience and training are interested in it, too. So what can you do to stand out from the competition and be viewed as the most desirable candidate?
- Be flexible. The more open you are to different schedules or shifts, the greater your options. Therefore, if you are amenable to working nights or taking weekend call, let it be known. Similarly, if you’re willing and able to travel across the country for an assignment, communicate it to your recruiter. Your marketability will soar!
- Keep your curriculum vitae (CV) current. Before you submit it to your recruiter, make sure your CV is both thorough and accurate. Your work history should include permanent positions as well as locum tenens jobs, if applicable, but be sure to differentiate between the two. It also should include dates of employment and explanations for any gaps. To ensure your CV is always up to date and error-free, revise and review it as soon as you complete an assignment.
- Get references. Many times, references—or rather a lack thereof—can cause a delay in landing or starting an assignment. You may sidestep this issue by addressing it now. Contact a few respected colleagues in your specialty with whom you recently worked, and ask them to attest to your skills and qualifications. Aim for at least three references, prepare a list (include names, titles, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses), and submit it to your recruiter.
- Maintain excellent, accessible records. Review your license(s) and certifications—such as ACLS, BLS, and PALS—to confirm they are current, and keep track of them on a spreadsheet or in a Word document. Saving your information in an electronic format will make it easier to get to and manage. You also may choose to note expiration dates and set reminders in Outlook.
- Obtain board certification. Doctors who are board certified in their specialties provide a credential beyond licensing. If you are board certified or board eligible, you will be sought after and able to accept a greater number of locum tenens opportunities.
- Be open to acquiring additional licensure. If you are receptive to practicing locum tenens in other states, you can increase your assignment options and earning potential. Reputable locum tenens staffing firms like Medicus Healthcare Solutions can help you with the licensure process as well.
- Respond swiftly to calls and emails. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm—or in this case, the coveted assignment. Once the presentation of locum tenens opportunities begins, check your voicemail and emails frequently, and return calls and messages as quickly as possible. After a phone interview with a facility or practice administrator, confirm your interest and availability to your recruiter. Being responsive underscores your professionalism and demonstrates your sensitivity to the needs of the hospital, clinic, or group.
- Accept locum tenens assignments often. The more opportunities you take, the more you’ll have because working locum tenens regularly enhances your expertise. You will become more adaptable and gain experience with a variety of electronic health record (EHR) systems. Moreover, you will become adept at practicing in different settings and providing care to diverse patient populations.
Find more tips for success in “Preparing for Your First Locum Tenens Assignment.”