“Selfless.” “The difference between life and death.”
“Stabilizing.” “Serving the underserved.”
These are qualities that define outstanding healthcare professionals. Physicians and advanced practice providers who exhibit these qualities see practicing medicine as a higher calling rather than simply as a job.
And these are some of the traits for which Locumpedia, the guide to the locum tenens industry, has awarded five locum tenens providers with a 2022 Locum Tenens Provider of the Year award. Their exemplary patient care and unwavering dedication to service set the standard for truly exceptional healthcare.
Locumpedia developed the Providers of the Year award to shine a spotlight on the most impressive locum tenens physicians and advanced practice providers – and to underscore how providers who work on a temporary basis are essential to healthcare delivery in communities across the country. Without these mobile providers who are willing to travel where and when the need is greatest, many patients, particularly those in rural communities, would lack any access to healthcare services.
To be eligible for the award, providers must have practiced medicine on a locum tenens (temporary) basis exclusively in the United States in a major medical specialty for at least three months. To win the award, providers must have gone above and beyond to serve patients, as determined by an expert panel of judges.
Winning providers receive a $150 donation to a nonprofit organization of their choice, while staffing agencies that nominated a winning provider earn an award badge to use in their marketing materials and public relations campaigns.
These five providers embody service, dedication, and commitment. Locumpedia is proud to share their stories with the locum tenens community.
1. Ala Shiyab, M.D.
Specialty: General Surgery
Staffing Agency: Weatherby Healthcare
Represented by: Kyle Eggnatz, Provider Consultant
Years Practicing Locums: 5
While locum tenens general surgeon Ala Shiyab, M.D. was on call during an assignment, he was asked by the hospital’s primary surgeon to help with a follow-up surgery on a complex case involving a new mother who needed several surgeries from a C-Section.
After Dr. Shiyab successfully completed the surgery, the patient was required to follow up on care for another week. The mother, exuding utmost trust in him, requested that only Dr. Shiyab handle her follow-up care.
Over the next 7 days, Dr. Shiyab drove two hours to the hospital and two hours back home each day to check on the mother and newborn. Now, the two are home and in excellent health. This selfless dedication on the part of Dr. Shiyab is a testament to his character and core values as a physician.
2. Josef Burwell, PA-C
Specialty: Emergency Medicine & Primary Care
Staffing Agency: Wilderness Medical Staffing
Represented by: Ethan McWilliams, CEO
Years Practicing Locums: 4
Locum tenens emergency medicine and primary care provider Josef Burwell, PA-C, has consistently received positive feedback from clients who have worked with him. He has taken positions for last-minute staffing needs in locations most providers don’t consider.
Burwell has worked in remote and isolated Alaska villages with populations of less than 100 residents. He serves as the sole provider for multiple Alaskan communities separated by great distances. He has delivered care that improves the quality of life for his patients and has even been the difference between life and death for his patients.
Many agencies have asked Burwell to return to work for them over the years, as he seamlessly integrates into rural communities and is highly skilled. He is well-known for his kindness and respect. His selfless dedication is a testament to his character and core values as a physician assistant.
3. Aerial Avery, D.P.M
Staffing Agency: Floyd Lee Locums
Represented by: Leslie Munn, Senior Healthcare Consultant
Years Practicing Locums: 1
Locum tenens podiatrist Aeriel Avery, D.P.M. was born in an underserved community and made it his mission to bring medical care to those in need. With over 20 years of experience practicing medicine in Virginia and New York, he decided to return to his home state of Oklahoma to explore locum tenens work. This led to his current assignment where he provides tribal health services.
As a physician with a shared First American lineage, Dr. Avery takes extra care in being respectful and reverent to the community. This has resulted in a tribe that has grown to love their local doctor, even winning him Employee of the Week based on patient nominations. Dr. Avery’s bedside manner is praised for being kind, calm, and compassionate.
In line with First American beliefs in holistic medicine, Dr. Avery works to incorporate these practices into his treatment recommendations and education. He is dedicated to bridging cultural gaps in medicine. He does this by introducing healthy practices that complement rather than replace cultural practices. This has led to a lot of word-of-mouth referrals for Dr. Avery. He remains committed to combating diseases, such as diabetes, that are prevalent among tribal communities.
Dr. Avery attributes his caring and thoughtful approach to the ability to practice holistic medicine with his patients. According to the facility director at the Tribal Health Center, Dr. Avery isn’t clocking in just to work but to make an impact on the community he serves.
4. Leo Alonso, D.O.
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
Staffing Agency: Barton Associates
Represented by: Ellie Penati, Associate Director
Years Practicing Locums: 8
For over two decades, locum tenens emergency medicine physician Leo Alonso, D.O. has been on a journey as a philanthropist, starting with his commitment to rural development and education through the Peace Corps. He continued his mission to help those in need by establishing an emergency medicine program with Project SEMILLA and serving his community in Jacksonville, Florida, through the Volunteers of Medicine clinic. This clinic offers free primary and specialty care to those without private health insurance.
As a physician, Dr. Alonso’s experience volunteering in healthcare has been instrumental in providing quality care to underserved communities. With a passion for teaching, he strives to pass on his knowledge and leave a lasting impact on future generations.
Dr. Alonso is making a difference in patients’ lives by alleviating suffering through his work as an emergency medicine physician. He exemplifies the essence of selflessness and compassion as a physician, showing that giving and sharing knowledge are integral parts of his character and values.
5. Anoop Rao, M.D.
Staffing Agency: Health Carousel
Represented by: Chris Armey, Recruiter
Years Practicing Locums: 1
Locum tenens hospitalist Anoop Rao, M.D., who is still new to locum tenens, wanted to assist communities close to home in New Mexico. When his recruiter learned that a Roswell healthcare facility needed coverage after recently acquiring a new medical group, he jumped at the chance.
Initially, Dr. Rao committed to a one-week stint to make sure it was a good fit for him. Af the end of that week, he felt drained by the high acuity of patients in large volumes who barely had enough provider coverage. The doctors there were already burned out, placing a heavy burden on any newcomers.
Despite this experience, Dr. Rao returned for another round of shifts and has since quit his full-time job, making it his mission to stabilize the Roswell facility. He has put down roots by leasing an apartment in Roswell to continue helping this underserved community until the facility can find enough full-time staff.
Dr. Rao is a prime example of facing challenging environments head-on rather than seeking a more comfortable medical setting. His relentless dedication to providing care to this community is admirable and a testament to the core values of being a physician.
Congratulations to these fine providers for earning their awards.
Locumpedia would like to thank the recruiters and their staffing agencies who nominated these providers for helping us bring these stories to the locum tenens world.
After meeting with a warm reception from the locum tenens industry for Locumpedia’s inaugural award, the Locum Tenens Providers of the Year campaign will return in 2023. As of this time, nominations will be accepted starting October 23, 2023.
About Locumpedia’s Providers of the YearLocumpedia’s Locum Tenens Providers of the Year award picks up the tradition established by the defunct magazine LocumLife and its “Locum Tenens of the Year” awards that recognized the best locum tenens providers and physician recruiters each year. When Locumpedia launched as a startup in 2020 during the Covid-19 crisis, its founders made it a priority to revive this provider recognition award to benefit the industry. Out of 23 nominations received from 12 locum tenens staffing agencies and reviewed on an anonymous basis, the following panel of expert judges identified five providers who best exhibited the qualities of a Provider of the Year based on the award criteria:
- Dr. Andrew Wilner, locum tenens neurologist and author of “The Locum Life: A Patient’s Guide to Locum Tenens” and host of the podcast, “The Art of Medicine with Dr. Andrew Wilner”
- Dr. Vlad Dzhashi, locum tenens hospitalist and publisher of TheLocumGuy.com
- Dr. Stephanie Freeman, locum tenens critical care physician and founder of the Locums Doc Summit and the National Association of Locums and Independent Physicians
- Robin Vovk, business development manager at LocumSmart
- Keri New, senior director of sales at Doximity
- Billie Wickstrom, news editor of Locumpedia
- Cory Kleinschmidt, founder and publisher of Locumpedia
Locumpedia is a free locum tenens news source and technology platform that helps physicians, staffing firms, and healthcare facilities make informed decisions and optimize costs with industry news coverage, resource guides, a free job board and directory, market research, and marketing services.