PART 3

What’s the Scoop on Locum Tenens Staffing Agencies?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what “locum tenens” is, how it works and what kinds of physicians practice this way, let’s take a look at healthcare staffing agencies and the pros and cons of finding locum tenens jobs with and without them.

In Part 3 of Locumpedia’s No-BS Guide to Locum Tenens we’ll cover:

Section 1: Why Should I Use a Locum Tenens Agency?

Blogging doctors writing about locum tenens seem to agree that, if you’re like most physicians interested in trying locum tenens, you should work through a locum tenens staffing firm — at least to start.Docs can certainly do this alone if they want — they may trust their instincts more when it comes to negotiating that higher pay rate — but it’snice to have an agency in your corner as an advocate.

And what’s one of the biggest advantages of an agency? You’re covered under their malpractice insurance. The agency negotiates with the hospital or office on your behalf.

However, Interim Physicians CEO Tim Hand says, “Good agencies should have an assignment for you where you want to go, when you want to go, at a fair rate.”

The agency charges the facility what may seem like a lot for its services but, in addition to sourcing the assignment, they’re providing clinicians’ malpractice coverage and running staff 24/7 with a credentialing and travel team at your disposal. The agency also pays a full staff of recruiters who help find new physicians, and that carries a lot of overhead. Think of the agency as a “utility,” a service that’s always on.

If you consider working locum tenens trying to secure an assignment without an agency, you may have to decide whether you want a career in telemarketing or in practicing medicine. (Just sayin.’)

Agency Ed

While some locum tenens agencies assign one person to represent both client (healthcare facility) and clinician in the locums equation, most larger healthcare staffing firms employ two people with differing skill sets to assist each “customer:” a marketer, or salesperson, to represent the client’s needs and a recruiter to find the right physician fit.

Among those employing (pardon the pun) the latter agency model are CompHealth, Interim Physicians and LocumTenens.com. Each recruiter at agencies like this gets to know you personally — your career and lifestyle goals — and then works to ensure each provider gets the best pay in a job that’s the best fit. Recruiters also stay connected throughout the assignment because they want to know how each assignment is going — this helps them secure your next assignment. Recruiting is about relationship building, and this business won’t be successful if it can’t build a solid relationship with a provider.

Nevertheless, in many cases, the reality is that a recruiter under pressure will call you up and compress that whole “getting-to-know-you” routine into one desperate phone conversation to fill an open shift.

Ultimately, whether or not the stars align for a given assignment, most recruiters — even most of those who reach you via cold call — are there to listen to your concerns; make any adjustments necessary (to the extent they’re allowed); and help you succeed, no matter the situation.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make the most of the assignment. The facility/practice isn’t looking for someone to change how they practice – they want someone who fits in with their staff and cares for their patients.

And then there’s the “top pay” and the “just-right-for-you” assignment. Realistically, that’s all part of the negotiation before a contract is signed. Most agencies seek to build relationships with both clients and clinicians, so the best agency reps try to work out a “win” for all three parties involved. (Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, folks.)

Most agencies seek to build relationships with both clients and clinicians, so the best agency reps try to work out a “win” for all three parties involved.

Most agencies seek to build relationships with both clients and clinicians, so the best agency reps try to work out a “win” for all three parties involved.

Here’s some advice to help you work with your next recruiter:
  • Try establishing a relationship with multiple agencies.
  • Generate a rapport with recruiters. Let them know your likes and dislikes.
  • Get all of your paperwork in order.
  • Try keeping at least five active licenses. Let your agency help you get more.
  • Retain references for at least six months to a year. Consider asking people to become references while you’re on a locum tenens assignment.
  • Get confirmations of which agencies presented you, and keep copies of their ‘authorizations to present.’
  • Keep a copy of your Certificate of Insurance (COI) for malpractice coverage.

Section 2: How Do I Choose a Locum Tenens Firm?

Okay, first you must know that if you even think about becoming a locum tenens physician, the agencies will be ‘on your donkey,’ to quote late-1970s CB (citizen band) radio lingo. (Probably ancient history to you, but it was “a thing.” Google it.)

In fact, you might have to, at minimum, mute your phone or, at worst, change your phone number. HOWEVER, at least at this moment in time, you can block callers whose phone numbers you don’t recognize. Also, ‘text-messengers’ are required to notify you of your right to reply “STOP” and prevent future texts. Refer back to Part 2 of this guide for some locum tenens’ disadvantages, which we briefly touched on. Many times, agencies won’t stop e-mailing, calling, or texting because landing a doc for an assignment can be worth tens of thousands of dollars for that agency.

Now that we got that straight, let’s talk about things you should consider when choosing a locum tenens agency.

In today’s US healthcare marketplace, there are more than 100 companies providing temporary-physician or advanced-practitioner staffing services for hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. The National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO ®) has more than 90 member companies and is continually growing.

Most established locum tenens companies maintain high standards and do a good job for the healthcare industry. So, how do you sort them all out?

When choosing a staffing company, providers and facilities each look for similar qualities they find the most important. NALTO company members represent a majority of the locum tenens industry. These companies become members of NALTO because they agree to maintain high standards of service throughout the locum tenens industry.

Providers have the right to expect high-quality service from locum tenens representatives because this is literally what they’ve vowed to uphold. NALTO offers a few guidelines that should help evaluate different firms, so you choose one you feel best represents you:

1. Check the agency’s NALTO credentials.

Members of NALTO all agree to uphold an ethical code, ensuring that “most,” if not all, will maintain that high standard of service.

2. Find an agency that helps providers find malpractice insurance.

One of the advantages of working with an agency is the connections they have and their ability to help providers secure malpractice insurance. When meeting with an agency, discuss whether or not the policy is comprehensive and covers any incident that occurs while you work for them.

3. Review the company’s payroll history.

The answer to this question helps assure providers the company has the financial resources to pay its physicians. You’d be surprised how many physicians DON’T get paid on time.

Since most locum tenens agencies are privately owned, you’ll probably have to conduct an online search: check out the website of each company you’re considering, search for its social media profiles and activity (especially on LinkedIn), read reviews on Glassdoor, Google reviews, or review any news coverage available, etc. Ask industry contacts what they’ve heard about the company — and, of course, talk to a recruiter about the types and locations of assignments available in your specialty.

4. Make sure the recruitment representative is accessible and can make themselves available to answer your questions.

Make sure the agency understands the intricacies of your specialty. Agencies have entire teams dedicated to helping providers, whether that be answering simple questions or helping providers obtain state licenses and hospital privileges. Because they build relationships with state boards and medical facilities across the country, recruiters can help you navigate the preliminary processes much more quickly.

5. Partner with the agency that offers services to its providers ensuring all details are taken care of as soon as the provider arrives to work 

Ask about key services like contract negotiations, as well. You don’t want to find out too late that an agency doesn’t do credentialing or doesn’t have the connections to get it done promptly.

Most established locum tenens companies maintain high standards and do a good job for the healthcare industry.

Here are some additional tips from Staff Care for identifying the right locum tenens agency or agencies to work with.

1. The client should pay, not the candidate.

Recruiters help you locate the right locums assignment, and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Instead, they’re paid by the party seeking a physician or advanced practitioner, never by the candidate.

2. Practice discernment.

In your locum tenens ventures with companies, make sure you ask some basic things like how long they’ve been in business and who their clients are. You also need to have them list out services and benefits. This will help you evaluate their professionalism and determine if you should work with them.

3. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Providers can often find one agency they like and stick with them forever, while others shop around for different ones. Find the method that works best. Don’t try to work with every single recruiter out there. If your CV is too widely circulated, it can make you look too eager.

4. Tell agencies what you need and want.

Have a realistic vision of what you need in a locum tenens position. Full-time, part-time, working close to home or in a rural hospital in Texas. Determine the type of position, pay, and location you truly need. Being open with a recruiter will help them best match your needs.

5. Expect the best communication. You deserve it.

You will need to be in continual contact with your locum tenens recruiter. You want a recruiter who will be available and always willing to answer your questions when you need them. You should also expect a recruiter and any other agency staff to be available during the onboarding process, and throughout your assignment.

Each recruiter’s goal should be to create a mutually beneficial match between you (the candidate) and the employer. Good recruiters know the importance of relationship building because a good, solid relationship leads to multiple assignments. You deserve to have a recruiter who pays attention to your needs and will work alongside you to work toward your future goals. Don’t forget that.

Section 3: How Do I Find Locum Tenens Jobs Without an Agency?

We want to provide a complete guide to locum tenens medical practice within these chapters, but let’s be honest. After you’ve successfully ‘“jumped through hoops” for more than a decade to complete your education and training — passing multiple exams and surviving many other trials to become a licensed, and (most likely) board-certified, physician — you probably don’t need step-by-step instructions on how to find a job.

You know you need a “CV” (curriculum vitae) and copies of all licenses and other documents that validate your credentials, right? And you’ve probably functioned in the medical-professional community long enough to realize you need to search beyond ‘generic’ job boards — like Indeed.comCareerBuilder.com or Monster.com — for your ideal physician job, especially for a locum tenens physician job.

Indeed may be the number one job site in the world with more than 300 million unique visitors every month, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option to help you land a locum tenens contract.

In other words, there might be more hires made through Indeed than any other job site, but you’re likely to find more locum tenens jobs on industry-specific and agency websites. Speaking of agencies, suffice it to say it’s not “a piece of cake” to do for yourself what they can do for you — especially on the client side — unless you have strong healthcare industry contacts and you’re well-organized.

It doesn’t matter the size of the company, some assignments can still take upwards of 4-5 months to approve credentialing and sign the mounds of paperwork before coming to a contract agreement with any healthcare facility.

A staffing agency is one of the easiest ways to work locum tenens, and it is also the best way to start. However, if you still prefer to “go it alone,” here are several industry-specific job boards, most of which allow you to remain anonymous to agencies while searching for locum tenens jobs. Just be careful in registering with any of them — and consider setting up a virtual phone number through which you can screen any follow-up calls you receive.

Industry-Specific Job Boards

PracticeMatch

PracticeMatch has been “Trusted by Physician Job-Seekers for Over 30 Years” (way back in the BI era, or “Before Internet”).

“Based in St. Louis, Missouri, PracticeMatch is the industry leader in providing practicing physician and resident/fellow data and services to in-house physician staffing professionals and offers a continuum of services designed to provide a clear competitive hiring advantage to health organizations. It boasts “being the first to offer physician databases online and the first to fully integrate all recruitment-related services.”

Industry statistics highlighted on the website when we visited:

  • Total Interviewed Physicians: more than 400,000
  • Total Active Interviewed Job Seekers: more than 130,000
  • Candidate Matches In the Last 30 Days (as of June 20, 2023): 231,903
PracticeLink

According to PracticeLink Director of Physician and Client Operations Tammy Hager, PracticeLink works with “more than 5,000 healthcare facilities representing more than 25,000 job opportunities nationwide.” While its network includes both in-house recruiters and agency recruiters, the job board allows you to narrow your job search to only those posted by in-house recruiters (or agency recruiters). Each month PracticeLink uploads more than 500 new “inDepth Interviews” by trained interviewers with active job candidates in which the latter share details about their training, practice preferences, family needs/history, hobbies, personal interests and more.

Here are the “latest stats” posted for PracticeLink when we checked it out:

  • Active Jobs: 35K+
  • Active Job Seekers: 50K+
  • Job Responses (Last 30 days): 14K+
  • New Jobs (Last 30 days): 5.4K+
LocumTenens.com

LocumTenens.com lays claim to being “the industry’s largest and most-visited job board” for physicians, PAs, NPs, CRNAs & psychologists. Stats highlighted on the job board include 160 specialties served, more than 100,000+ jobs available monthly, and 80,000+ available jobs.

“In addition to running a free, self-service job board, LocumTenens.com is a full-service physician, advanced practice and psychologist recruitment agency working in high-demand medical specialties,” with recruiters dedicated to only one medical specialty. Note: if you don’t want to be contacted by agency reps after using this job board, be sure to answer “no” to these two questions asked at registration:

  • Would you like to be contacted about opportunities in your specialty?
  • Would you like to allow healthcare facilities to contact you directly via email?
DocCafe.com

Like most other job boards, DocCafe.com allows job-seekers to search postings for free. As of June 2023, DocCafe had 23,810 physician/PA locums/travel jobs posted (mostly by agencies, it appears) in the past 30 days among the more than 133,429 “total active jobs.” When we narrowed that search to the last 24 hours, we found DocCafe offered 2,693 physician/PA jobs posted.

Possibly the most dynamic among the job boards for physicians and physician assistants, this site facilitates video interviewing ‘on demand,’ along with a built-in applicant tracking system (ATS) to help potential employers move candidates ‘through the internal pipeline’ — all for the cost of a subscription fee for the employer, of course.

PhysicianJobBoard.com

This board self-identifies as “the largest & best resource for locum tenens or permanent jobs for physicians, PAs, NPs & CRNAs.”  The site boasts 7,000+ healthcare employers in its network, including well-established locum tenens recruiting firms like All Star Healthcare Solutions, Cross Country Locums, The Delta Companies, Interim Physicians, Jackson & Coker, Maxim Healthcare Group, The Medicus Firm and Physicians PRN.

LocumJobsOnline.com

This site “helps connect qualified, but hard-to-find candidates with locum tenens jobs posted by some of the top locum tenens agencies on its unique platform.” When we visited the site, it boasted 27,868 locum tenens jobs for MDs, DOs, PAs, CRNAs, NPs, and other healthcare professionals in close to 60 specialty categories.

Other Agency Job Boards

Many of the larger, more established locum tenens agencies offer their job postings online, as well. However, we’d suggest reviewing the registration and preference-setting options carefully if you’d prefer not to be contacted by agency recruiters. Once again, visiting our agency directory here on Locumpedia.com or the one at NALTO.org is a good place to find quality agencies

Here are a few examples to get you started.

CompHealth:

  • PAs/NPs/CRNAs (513)
  • medical lab techs (205),
  • occupational/physical/respiratory/speech therapists (1,241)

Cross Country Locums:

  • 860+ “healthcare opportunities”

Hayes Locums:

  • 1,500+ locum tenens jobs available

MPLT Healthcare:

  • several hundred locums, permanent and staff jobs

StaffCare:

  • 1,737 locum tenens jobs available for physicians, advanced practice providers (NPs, CRNAs, PAs).

Healthcare Media

JAMA Career Center: Publication and job board are geared to physicians. While there were a few jobs posted by agencies when we visited, most were posted by healthcare employers looking to hire directly.

Becker’s Hospital Review Career Center: Publication is geared to healthcare executives. Jobs posted are a mix of clinical, administrative/executive and academic.

Modern Healthcare Career Rx: Publication is geared to healthcare executives. Jobs posted are a mix of clinical, administrative/executive and academic.

Social Media

LinkedIn

Looks like it’s mostly locum tenens agencies posting the clinician jobs here, but there were more than 20,000 of them available when we just entered “locum tenens” with no job title, specialty, or location preference. This is also a good place to learn about healthcare employers across the country. Search under “groups” and find more than 50 locum-tenens-related groups by job category, specialty, or interest area — some including both clinicians and members of the recruiting firm community, along with a few for locum tenens opportunity postings.

Facebook

Use the platform’s search feature to find job, agency and clinician posts you might find helpful. Groups to check out include Locum Tenens Physicians Network, Jobs – Locum Tenens Physicians Networks, Physicians Only Locum Tenens Interest Group, Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Locums Travel Networking Locum CRNAsPhysician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner (PA/NP) Locum Tenens, NPs in Virtual Care and Telemedicine, and Nurse Practitioner Networking.

Twitter:

Most locum tenens presence here is agencies and media outlets. Follow Andrew Tisser, DO, and check out his “Talk2MeDoc” podcast to hear first-hand accounts from doctors using locum tenens to achieve a better work-life balance.

Physician Blogs

If you’re interested in locum tenens medical practice (which you must be if you’re reading this guide), you really need to explore TheLocumGuy.com. There you’ll find featured locum tenens job postings, along with lots of meaty insight into making ‘the locums life’ work for you.

Dr. Vlad Dzhashi compares the difference between finding gigs by yourself without agencies vs. working directly with an agency in this blog post.

He also evaluates the pros and cons of “per-diem contracting,” which leaves the agency out of the equation. His article details how he accomplished this and how you can use his experience to short-circuit the process for yourself.

Even better, he’s willing to coach you through the process if you’re game. You can learn here more about this opportunity, should you be interested in Dr. Dzhashi’s services.