Locumpedia Introduces the Six Winners of its 2023 Locum Tenens Providers of the Year Award

Superheroes, of the superhuman variety, invariably possess extraordinary abilities and a strong moral code. They are committed, above all else, to keeping the public safe and helping those in need. These are precisely the traits we find in outstanding locum tenens providers. 

Physicians, CRNAs, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are the heart of the American healthcare system. Each year, more than 50,000 providers practice medicine on locum tenens assignments across the country, leveraging their extraordinary abilities to care for patients, often in underserved communities.

After announcing the winners of the inaugural Locumpedia Locum Tenens Provider of the Year Award for 2022 early last year, we began accepting submissions for the 2023 award late last year. Now, all 32 submissions from 11 locum tenens staffing agencies have been reviewed by an expert panel of judges, the votes have been tallied, and the best locum tenens providers of 2023 have been identified. 

And with that, Locumpedia is proud to recognize six deserving providers with our 2023 Locum Tenens Provider of the Year award. Winners will receive a $150 donation to the nonprofit organization of their choice, while their respective staffing agencies are awarded with prestigious Providers of the Year badges they can use to tout their top-notch providers.

These six healthcare heroes embody service, dedication, and commitment. Locumpedia is proud to share their stories with the locum tenens community.

1. Dr. Ziad Skaff

Medical Oncologist 
Staffing Agency:
Floyd Lee Locums
Represented by:
Elizabeth Bates
Years Practicing Locums: 1

Dr. Ziad Skaff is known in the 12-county PeeDee region of South Carolina for his work as a medical oncologist at a large hospital in the Florence area. When Leslie Munn, once Dr. Skaff’s practice manager, joined Floyd Lee Locums as a senior healthcare consultant, she quickly recruited him to fill assignments in underserved areas of North Carolina and South Carolina.

“Floyd Lee Locums sent him to Ahoskie, North Carolina. I think two days after he started his assignment, they were already trying to get him to work for them full-time,” Munn says with a laugh.

Dr. Skaff’s ability to make patients, nurses, and other doctors feel at ease makes him the ideal locum tenens provider.  “Dr. Skaff has helped recruiters understand what’s happening in the oncology field,” Munn continues, “and how to find the best locum tenens oncologists.” 

“He’s been able to use his perm background, and his values and skills, and adapt that to the locum’s opportunity,” Munn says, “to help increase their census and educate Advanced Practice Providers. He’s not afraid to jump in wherever he is needed. He’s been a real gem to work with.” 

In addition to providing treatment, Dr. Skaff has also helped secure grants to establish “The Cancer Relief Fund,” which strives to ease the financial burden placed upon patients in the PeeDee region. His work has undoubtedly influenced the outcomes of cancer patients in rural South Carolina, according to Elizabeth Bates, VP of Floyd Lee Locums, who nominated Dr. Skaff for the award. 

2. Dr. Edward Kondrot

Staffing Agency:
Caliber Healthcare
Represented by:
Terri Ball 
Years Practicing Locums: 2

Dr. Edward Kondrot is a board-certified ophthalmologist serving veterans as a locum tenens provider. In November 2021, Terri Ball, Master Recruiting Consultant at Caliber Healthcare Solutions, sent out a digital call for locum physicians interested in working with her client, Optum. The health services company has a mobile unit dedicated to treating veterans in need of ophthalmologic care. “Dr. Kondrot responded to my request almost immediately,” she recalls.  

“He explained that he spends five months a year on medical mission trips to Africa, and the rest of the time RVing cross country with his wife,” says Ball. Working with Optum provides the funds necessary to continue traveling and serving patients abroad.

During a mission trip to Africa (via sight.org), Ball recalls that Dr. Kondrot treated a girl suffering from strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes. “He told me that in the village where this girl was born, she is considered to be “possessed by a demon” and is not allowed to be married because of her ailment.” Dr. Kondrot performed a procedure to correct her condition, which enabled her to live a normal life. 

While working locum assignments, Dr. Kondrot sees five or more veterans a day for routine exams. He then forwards each patient chart directly to their respective Veterans Affairs hospitals, where they’re placed at the top of the priority list, significantly reducing the wait time to consult with their regular healthcare providers.

“I don’t think I’ve ever nominated a physician for anything like this before, but he makes my job easy,” Ball explains. “He never has any conflict, and he’s never said “no” to an assignment. He was just a fantastic fit for us from the beginning. He’s really a dream provider to work with.”  

3. Dr. Kent Herbert

Family Medicine – ER
Staffing Agency:
Wapiti Medical Staffing
Represented by:
Annavel Kelly
Years Practicing Locums: 13

With over a decade of experience in locum tenens, special recognition as a top provider is long overdue for Dr. Kent Herbert.

According to Annavel Kelly, a senior account manager for Wapiti Medical Staffing, Dr. Herbert has been a fixture in rural hospitals throughout Iowa. He works primarily in underserved areas needing primary care physicians with emergency room (ER) experience. 

Although the demand is high, and there’s often potential to earn higher wages, money was never a primary motivator for Dr. Herbert. Kelly says that whenever she reached out to him with an opportunity, he simply asked, “Where and when?” If he was in the area, he’d be there to help. 

His dedication is seen in his medical mission work. “He’s gone on several trips to work in Africa,” Kelly explained. “He’ll always send us pictures of what he’s doing … on his most recent trip to Ghana, he cared for patients who gathered inside a library. He even helped the locals build medical clinics.”

Wapiti emphasizes the need to find providers who align with their company’s core values, and Dr. Herbert is the ideal fit. According to Kelly, Wapiti “saves lives behind a computer,” and she assists by ensuring that ER rooms in rural America are staffed with physicians like Dr. Herbert. 

“We take to heart the work we do for patients,” Kelly says. “I also live in a rural community, and if something happens to me or my family, we want the best care. That’s what Dr. Herbert provides. He came to my mind immediately when we saw this award.” 

4. Dr. Kia Jones

Staffing Agency:
ENT Surgery Solutions
Represented by:
Dr. Mark Royer
Years Practicing Locums: 3

African-American patients face higher incidences of head and neck cancers, but the reasons why are still poorly understood. Research from the American Cancer Society shows a critical need for better representation of physicians mirroring these community demographics to help improve health outcomes for minority groups. Otolaryngologist Dr. Kia Jones is committed to serving this demographic, specializing in oncological resections and reconstructions of the head and neck. 

“Around the country, there are not enough sub-specialists in head and neck surgical oncology,” says Dr. Mark Royer, Medical Director of ENT Surgery Solutions. “It requires additional training, and the hours those cases require — and the difficulty of those cases — can scare people from the specialty.” 

Despite working for a private practice in Indianapolis, Dr. Jones wanted to deliver this specialized care for her community. She relinquished a lucrative position to pursue an intensive, year-long fellowship in head and neck oncological resection and microvascular reconstructive surgery in New York. Locums helped supplement the income she had lost, Dr. Royer says.

“She had this period of about six months where she was going to need an income, which is when she reached out to us,” Dr. Royer explains. “My wife and I are Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) docs, and we knew Dr. Jones back when she was a resident. We created a plan for her where she could use locums to maintain and save money while she finished the fellowship and awaited licensing and credentialing. So it was a win-win for all of us.“

“One thing [Dr. Jones] shows is that locum tenens is such a viable career option for so many surgeons, and it helps remove the stigma from working with locums, amongst surgeons specifically,” Dr. Royer says. “It’s great to see Locumpedia elevating, pointing out, and celebrating [her] inspirational journey to improve the health of her community.”

5. Dr. Anish Oza

General Anesthesia
Staffing Agency:
Medicus Healthcare Solutions
Represented by:
Daniel Safsel
Years Practicing Locums: 9

When a hospital struggles to fill an on-staff anesthesiologist vacancy, the types of surgeries it can facilitate becomes limited. Daniel Safsel, a provider consultant for Medicus Healthcare Solutions, says he has encountered situations like this several times, and he can always count on one particular provider when he’s in a bind — Dr. Oza.

For the last three years, Dr. Anish Oza has balanced his perm position as an anesthesiologist at a Chicago hospital, while raising three kids, participating in charity work, and throwing in some locum tenens shifts whenever possible. But no matter how busy his schedule gets, he’ll make time for Safsel and Medicus to fill a critical shift. 

“He’s always willing to help us out if we’re in a pinch,” says Safsel. “He’s very flexible, too. There are times when he has a post-call day off, and his primary location doesn’t need him, and he’ll fill a shift for us if we need him.” 

According to Safsel, Dr. Oza has been a key provider for Medicus since his first assignment, working on anesthesia projects in four facilities across Illinois. His dedication and willingness to help others stretches beyond the operating room. When he’s not working or spending time with family, Dr. Oza works with charities in his community. Safsel says Dr. Oza and his family donate to the Near North Montessori School in Chicago, providing tuition assistance for underserved families and ensuring access to quality education for children in economic need. 

He also contributes to Humble Design, an organization that designs and fully furnishes homes for individuals, families, and veterans emerging from homelessness. Dr. Oza and his family also helped sponsor a family of Syrian refugees via RefugeeOne in Chicago.

“There are so many reasons why I think he should be a Provider of the Year,” Safsel says. “But the biggest reason is that he embodies what it means to be a locum tenens anesthesiologist. He wants to step in, help, and provide assistance wherever needed. He’s such a great leader on all of the projects he works on. It’s just been amazing to work with him.”

6. Dr. Mahyar Afrooz

Staffing Agency:
Interim Physicians
Represented by:
Barbara McCann
Years Practicing Locums: 1

From the first moment Interim Physicians’ Senior Physician Recruiter Barbara McCann spoke to Dr. Mayhar Afrooz, she could tell he only had his patients’ best interests in mind.

“I found out he had just started his career in medicine three-and-a-half years ago, at the height of the pandemic,” McCann recalls. “That was a crazy time for all of us, and he decided to move to Fresno, California, as a hospitalist and work in what he called a ‘COVID hot zone.’”

Dr. Afrooz told McCann he loves medicine precisely because of the challenge it presents. He wants to put himself in a position to rise to the challenge and do the most good for his community. 

“He wanted to deal with large, sick populations,” McCann says. “He told me he didn’t want to shy away from the sick. He was someone who could never possibly see himself in another field.” 

McCann says Dr. Afrooz was one of the most well-rounded physicians she’s had the opportunity to work with, and she was impressed with his humility despite all of his success. She says his intelligence, bedside manner and lack of ego have made him a favorite at the clinics where he contracts. 

“He reminds me of those old-fashioned physicians — not to say that he would be making house calls — but he just loves to get to know each of his patients because he genuinely cares about them. He wants to be a good provider,” McCann says. “Medicine is something he was called to do.” 

Congratulations to our winning providers

Locumpedia would like to thank the recruiters and staffing agencies who nominated these distinguished providers. Your efforts have been instrumental in sharing their inspiring stories with our community of providers, healthcare facilities, and healthcare staffing agencies. 

Each of these providers showcases quintessential traits of the locum tenens profession: flexibility, adaptability, and an overall dedication to bridging healthcare gaps in underserved and rural communities. 

About Locumpedia’s Providers of the Year Award

Locumpedia’s second annual Locum Tenens Provider of the Year award continues a tradition established by the defunct magazine LocumLife and its “Locum Tenens of the Year” awards.

To be eligible for the Provider of the Year award, nominees must have practiced medicine on a locum tenens basis exclusively in the United States in a major medical specialty for at least three months. This year’s winners were selected by the following panel of expert judges:  

  • Dr. Therus Kolff, co-founder of CompHealth (and the locum tenens industry), and current member of the board of directors for Icon Medical
  • Dr. Andrew Wilner, a neurologist, author of “The Locum Life: A Physician’s Guide to Locum Tenens,” host of “The Art of Medicine” podcast, and Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Dr. Vlad Dzhashi, a locum tenens hospitalist and founder of locum tenens staffing agency White Coat Locums
  • Representatives of Doximity, Locumsmart, and Nolan & Associates
  • Cory Kleinschmidt, founder and publisher of Locumpedia

About 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.

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