The term “locum tenens” means “one holding a place.” A locum tenens physician is a provider or advanced practice provider who temporarily works in place of the regular physician to cover an absence or fill gaps during a staff shortage. Today, thousands of physicians and advanced practice providers contract with locum tenens companies to provide services for hospitals, outpatient medical centers, private practices, and community health centers. Keep reading to find out how your healthcare organization can benefit from locum tenens.
Why do Healthcare Companies use Locum Tenens Provider Staffing?
As the physician shortage continues to grow nationwide, healthcare organizations face the issue of filling positions to prevent care gaps. To combat this shortage, many healthcare facilities are turning to locum tenens providers as an alternative means of caring for patients. For many, this means utilizing a healthcare staffing agency.
Locum tenens physicians provide numerous benefits to healthcare organizations and patients. By staffing locum tenens providers, your healthcare organization can acquire specialized talent, which allows you to offer a broader range of services and improve patient care by reducing wait times, preventing hospital downtime, and increasing the rate of service delivery. Locum tenens physicians also help provide gap coverage for staffing shortages or relieve core staff burnout by allowing providers to take time off work without overburdening their colleagues with picking up too many extra shifts.
Benefits of Flexible Staffing
Healthcare organizations have increasingly used Locum tenens assignments to fill staffing gaps and bring locum tenens on for short periods of time. This flexibility allows administrators to assess and restructure service delivery before entering into permanent contracts. It also gives the hospital a chance to test out a possible recruit while still looking for the perfect permanent placements.
In addition, hospitals can leverage locum tenens doctors to test new programs which can be unpredictable and expensive when using permanent staff. By using locum tenens, healthcare organizations won’t bear the high cost of hiring a permanent provider.
Rural health clinics and hospitals can sometimes have a difficult time attracting full-time physicians. One advantage of today's flexible work environments is that locum tenens are able to serve and provide access to rural and underserved communities.
Learn more about locum physician hourly rates.
The Credentialing Process for Locum Tenens Staff
The credentialing process for locum tenens physicians and advanced practice providers is an important step all healthcare facilities must take before onboarding a new locum tenens. Hospitals must thoroughly review the physician's qualifications and licensure to ensure patient safety and provide the required privileges to practice medicine in the facility. While this process is highly regulated, there is no centralized process and it can be challenging and time consuming. The entire credentialing process can take anywhere from 30 days to 6 months, with an average of 60-120 days being the most typical.
Partnering with a locum tenens staffing agency, such as Health Carousel, can help hospitals avoid delays and any potential issues. Many agencies have an experienced credentialing department with a team that will take on the responsibility of collecting all the required documentation such as:
- Personal information
- Medicare number
- Social Security status
- Board qualifications/certifications
- Case logs
- Documentation of hospital privileges
- Malpractice insurance and reports
- DEA certificate
- Immunization records
- Proof of attendance at a medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship certificates
Leveraging Locum Tenens for Your Healthcare Organization
There is little doubt that locum tenens physicians provide numerous benefits to healthcare organizations. When coupled with physician staffing services, hospitals save time and resources by accessing a pool of highly qualified candidates. For more information about Health Carousel's staffing solutions, click here.