Maximizing the Benefits of Locum Tenens for Your Rural Healthcare Facility

As a healthcare administrator or HR professional, you have many choices of which staffing agency to work with. At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we’ve made rural health our staffing focus, working exclusively with healthcare facilities and industrial companies that serve patients in rural and, often, extremely remote areas. WMS is a leading locum tenens hiring agency in rural healthcare staffing, backed by years of experience with placing providers who understand the unique challenges of rural and remote healthcare. In this article, we’ll tap into our experience to help you understand how you can maximize the benefits of locum tenens for your rural healthcare facility.

Understanding the Challenges of Rural Healthcare

Often, it’s more difficult to hire healthcare providers to work permanently in rural and remote areas. Finding healthcare professionals who have the experience and acumen to treat patients in these areas and who are willing to live permanently in locations that may be isolated from professional peers or their familiar communities can be a tall order. According to, providers may have concerns about heavier workloads, difficulty taking time off, call frequency, and challenges with maintaining professional boundaries when considering working in rural areas.

However, the need for healthcare in rural and remote locations is often even greater than in urban areas. To help fill the employee gaps, many organizations turn to locum tenens staffing, where providers can temporarily fill in for staff openings. This provides much-needed breaks for permanent providers, helps with busier seasons, and ensures communities have the care they need.

Challenges of rural healthcare are plentiful. The healthcare industry has a shortage of primary care providers, with rural hospitals and health systems closing every year. Rural and remote areas can be more prone to chronic health conditions. Transportation can be more challenging to access. Additionally, healthcare can be harder to access in rural areas because residents may lack health insurance coverage, causing additional barriers to accessing care. Some populations, like Native communities, can be disproportionately affected by challenges regarding their health. For these reasons, among others, creating access to high-quality healthcare in rural and remote areas is vital because lives are at stake.

Interested in learning more about how Wilderness Medical Staffing customizes staffing solutions to rural and remote healthcare facilities? Set up a short Discovery Call with our team to learn more. 

Why Rural Expertise Matters in Locum Tenens Staffing

In rural healthcare, experience and expertise matter. Unlike urban facilities, resources may be limited. Labs may not be able to be run on-site or anywhere near the facility. Specialty care or higher levels of care could only be accessible by transferring the patient via plane or helicopter. Providers must be comfortable adapting and treating patients no matter what happens. It’s common for us to work with facilities requiring providers to perform solo emergency care. They are the only advanced practice provider in the facility, sometimes with no support staff. Ensuring locum tenens providers will succeed in these rural environments is paramount for the safety of the provider and the community.

At WMS, we focus on the types of providers that rural communities need the most – primary care, urgent care, emergency medicine, pediatrics, and behavioral health. We specifically staff physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to help fill in while providers are out. Our providers will be on rotating schedules for some of our clients, creating continuity of care for communities. In some locations, facilities may not have full-time providers on staff, so locum tenens will replace those roles, allowing their community to receive care when they otherwise may not be able to.

Providers who work with Wilderness Medical Staffing are highly screened by our team of professionals. APPs must have at least two years of professional experience before being considered for assignments. Those interested in emergency medicine positions need to have experience in emergency medicine before we will submit them as a qualified candidate for an assignment. While this means we turn away some healthcare providers who don’t have relevant experience, it’s in the best interest of our clients, the providers, and the communities we all serve.

They place appropriate staff in rural medical sites. The team is also very helpful when any unique circumstances arise. I have never had a poor interaction with staff and they are prompt with email or phone responses. Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better partner to help us staff our CAH.” ~ Valeri R., Client

How Locum Tenens Can Help Your Facility Succeed

It should be the job of any healthcare facility you work with to have your success in mind. Our team has over 200 years of combined experience helping staff in rural and remote facilities with excellent healthcare providers. We aim to help in the following areas:


If vacant positions or provider leave are pushing outpatient access, locum tenens can help to bridge the gap or even bolster visits so you can optimize your patient access strategy. Ensuring your community has continuity of care or availability of care can be of utmost importance in rural and remote areas. We help you have peace of mind, knowing you’ll have providers available for your community’s healthcare needs.


Whether your need is in the inpatient or outpatient setting, our experienced locum tenens providers can support your team in improving outcomes and achieving your quality metrics. It’s often not enough to have a warm body in a seat. We take pride in making matches between your facility and our providers that can help improve your outcomes overall. When your community has excellent healthcare from caring providers, it shows!

Here’s what one of our clients, Ian P. had to say about working with us: “Great staff, better providers, prompt service, attention to detail, and most importantly; an understanding of rural medicine.”


Healthcare providers who work with us have a heart for serving underserved communities. You can rest assured that the providers we send to you will provide an excellent patient experience. As mentioned, our team goes to great lengths to ensure the providers we place are highly skilled and qualified based on your facility’s needs. Our providers are rigorously screened to meet the highest industry standards in experience, cultural humility, and adaptability. Locum tenens providers also come from varied backgrounds and have different levels of expertise. Many healthcare professionals we work with have experience in the military or working with organizations in austere environments.


At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we understand that cost can be a concern when you’re making staffing decisions. Working with your recruiting agency to staff locum providers is usually much more cost-effective than recruiting new ones. You avoid paying for relocation fees, malpractice insurance, and benefits like health insurance. Additionally, you can support the retention of your permanent providers by having coverage for their leave, vacation requests, and preventing burnout.

Having the support of a staffing agency can also be beneficial, as it will assist you with credentialing and the logistics of getting your providers to and from their assignments.

Integrating Locum Tenens Professionals into Existing Teams

When a new person joins, it can be nerve-wracking for a locum healthcare provider and your internal team. Preparing a locum tenens before arriving at their assignment largely falls to the staffing agency. We should have a clear understanding of the expectations that you will have for them, including their schedule, key contacts, and travel logistics. We are also always happy to work with our clients to provide tips or tricks on onboarding your locum tenens before and upon arriving at your facility. You may also want to create an Orientation Schedule so they will understand how their first few days on assignment are likely to go.

Additionally, it can be helpful to introduce your locum tenens to some of the important information that will be valuable to them whether they are actively working or not. At WMS, we are happy to relay this information to your provider before arrival. Being more prepared can help them feel more welcome in your community. Before they arrive, communicate things like climate, clinic attire, shopping options, recreational facilities, recreational opportunities, cell phone service carriers, and in-house entertainment options. Especially for rural locum tenens, these details may be unique compared to what they are accustomed to. Having realistic expectations upon arrival helps them to acclimate to your facility and community. You can learn more about this in our article about welcoming locum tenens to your facility.


Working with a rural-focused locum tenens staffing agency often makes sense for rural and remote locations. While it can seem difficult to find the right providers for the unique challenges of rural healthcare facilities, it doesn’t have to be. Partnering with the right recruiting agency or staffing firm can make a difference in placing the right providers for the positions you need to fill. If you need help finding the right healthcare providers to work at your facility, contact us to learn if Wilderness Medical Staffing is a good fit.

CTA that reads Need Rural and Remote Healthcare Providers? Get help with your staffing needs.