How To Welcome a Locum Tenens to Your Healthcare Facility

It doesn’t matter if you work at a critical access hospital, industrial facility, rural healthcare clinic, or tribal medical center; when a new locum tenens is about to come into your location, they want to feel welcome and ready to get to work.

First impressions count for both the healthcare facility and the locum tenens. Making a good one can create lasting relationships between both parties for years to come. As an administrator or supervisor, it’s your responsibility to prepare your healthcare facility for your new arrival.

For clients who work with Wilderness Medical Staffing, we’ll work with you and your team to get more information and outline important information about your facility before the provider arrives. We communicate this information directly to the locum tenens, so they know what to expect upon arrival.

Here’s how to welcome a locum tenens to your healthcare facility.

Think Like a Locum Tenens

Many WMS clients have used locum providers extensively and are well acquainted with all that involves. But others may be less familiar with the use of “temporary duty” staffing or may have their own staffing changes and have someone new in the position of liaison for locum providers.

Most people have had the experience of being new to a community, the stranger in town. And everyone who’s ever started a job has gone through some iteration of the “first-day” hurdles…learning names and faces, orientation, figuring out the unspoken nuances of the workplace.

Think back to those times in your life, and then, imagine you’re a medical provider, arriving to offer medical care to a community for a few days, weeks, or even months. Imagine you’re about to become an immediate and vital member of a clinic team, maybe the only provider on-site, with varying levels of support available. Imagine you’re about to integrate into a community as a stranger, but someone who will quickly know the medical needs of everyone who walks in the clinic door.

Locum providers have a steep learning curve, from the moment they arrive for their assignment, and experienced providers know that going in. But whether it’s the first time being a locum provider or the 50th, some things don’t change. Everyone needs some information upfront to have the best experience possible, and everyone appreciates a warm welcome.

What can staff and community members do to help the locum provider settle in and make the experience exceptional? Many things!

As the saying goes, “begin at the beginning.”

Outline Clear Assignment Expectations

We always encourage providers to be flexible when arriving at a new facility. Every facility is set up and run differently, so having the providers enter an assignment with an open mind is essential to their success.

As the facility, you can welcome a locum tenens to your healthcare facility by having clear parameters for the assignment ready ahead of time. When working with a staffing agency like Wilderness Medical Staffing, our account executives will make sure assignment details such as duration, shift length, pay rates, patient volume, etc. are agreed upon by the facility and the provider before contracts are signed.

It’s your job to stick to these parameters and communicate with the provider (and the staffing agency) if any changes need to happen.

What to Communicate with Providers Before they Arrive

Think about the information that would be helpful to communicate before the locum provider arrives. Depending on the location and size of community, your setting may be quite different from the provider’s home. Here are a few suggestions of things you should communicate with your WMS account executive, so they can inform the provider before they begin packing for arrival at your facility.

Climate

Climate can have a big effect on the clothing and gear they should bring with them. Understanding the climate ahead of time can be extremely beneficial

Clinic Attire

What is the provider expected to wear while working? Are scrubs OK or should they bring business casual attire? Do you have other expectations for what they wear while working? If so, communicate that information.

Shopping

We understand that many rural locations, especially in Alaska, require additional forethought before arriving on assignment. Explaining your options for grocery stores can be particularly important, so providers know if they can purchase groceries in the community, if they need to bring food, or if they need to order it to be shipped in from a larger city’s grocery store.

Recreational Facilities

Will providers have access to various recreational facilities while working at your facility? Do you have access to a gym, pool, or other types of recreational activities?

Recreational Opportunities

Similar to recreational facilities, what other types of recreational opportunities are available near your facility? Will there be areas to hike, fish, or participate in other outdoor activities? Providers often appreciate rural locations because of the outdoor recreation, so this can sometimes be a selling point for your facility, too!

Cell Phone Service Carrier

It will be important to explain to providers what cell phone service is like at your facility since service can be less reliable in remote areas, so it’s important to communicate this ahead of time. If providers should acquire a specific type of phone before arriving on assignment, this needs to be discussed.

In-House Entertainment

Since your locum tenens provider will be living near your facility, will they have a TV available in their home away from home? Should they be prepared to provide their own streaming device, such as a Roku?

Communicate directly, or through Wilderness staff, so the provider can pack appropriately and do any advanced planning that would be helpful.

To summarize, here’s your pre-assignment checklist to communicate with the locum tenens provider (or their staffing agency).

  • Climate
  • Clinic Attire
  • Shopping
  • Recreational Facilities
  • Recreational Opportunities
  • Cell Phone Service Carrier
  • In-House Entertainment

Secure Housing 

locum tenens housing

Many locum tenens providers take assignments lasting weeks to months out of their year. The housing that your facility sets up for them truly does become a home away from home. While most locum tenens providers aren’t expecting luxurious living conditions, the housing needs to be adequate, at a minimum.  

WMS provides information on the type of housing for each assignment location and will also confirm if the provider will have a vehicle. The information we provide will cover questions about kitchen facilities, internet access, if there is a washer/dryer in housing, and if linens/bedding are provided. Providers will also want to know if housing is private, has shared common areas, is dorm-style, or other accommodations.  

The housing should make the locum tenens providers feel like your facility cares about them and their overall well-being. You’ll want to supply a space that’s clean and efficient. A comfortable and clean bed is a must, plus assuring that the housing will be quiet for proper rest between shifts. Having a supply of dishes and kitchen essentials is important for assignments where the provider will be living for multiple days at a time.  

You’ll also want to be sure that their safety is considered. You should have doors and windows that lock properly. The housing needs to have adequate heating and cooling options, so the provider is comfortable. They also will require clean water and working plumbing.  

One of the most important things your housing should have is internet access. With providers often traveling hundreds to thousands of miles to work with your facility, having good internet access can help them to feel connected to their normal life while providing entertainment for their time off.  

Share with providers who to call if there are any issues with housing, such as missing items or repairs that need to be made during their stay.  

If there is anything unique to your housing or community that WMS should share with providers coming to your site, please let us know. (Please inform us if there have been significant changes to lodging or amenities. We update our client profiles and try to stay current so the information we give to providers is accurate.)

Travel Logistics

locum tenens travel

When working with WMS, we facilitate travel coordination with the provider on behalf of the facility. Your locum tenens provider should have everything they need to arrive for their assignment.

WMS will also confirm with clinic staff that someone will be on hand to meet the provider when they arrive and connect them with their lodging and vehicle. If the provider is new to the community, we encourage clients to arrange for the person picking them up to give them a community tour. (See below for more information about what to include in their tour.)

After arrival, be sure the provider knows the location of the clinic and what time they are expected to report for their first day of the assignment.

It is also helpful to the provider to have a general idea of the best ways to get places on their days off.

Provider Orientation

Many of the facilities we work with prefer to hold a provider orientation, usually the day before an assignment starts. Often, the orientation is an opportunity to tour the facility, meet some of the other staff members, and learn more about the resources you’ll have available to you.

When the provider arrives at the clinic for their first day, it’s helpful to have a schedule for orientation already set and printed for them.

During orientation, you should tour the medical facility, including showing them where the emergency room is. Explain any Medivac procedures, review x-ray and lab equipment, and break down how the facility typically operates. If there are any unique protocols to your facility, share that information too.

Not all facilities are set up with emergency video calling, such as what Avel eCare provides, but if your facility is, demonstrating to a new locum tenens how this software works when they need it can be a huge plus!

Don’t forget to train providers on your facility’s EHR/EMR equipment. Whether your facility uses Epic, Cerner, or a different system, the locum tenens provider must have at least basic knowledge to properly document patient notes and look up patient records.

To summarize, you’ll want to be sure to include these things in your orientation/to-do list for your locum tenens provider:

  • Introductions to all staff
  • Tour the facility – including where the break room and access to things like a staff refrigerator are
  • Provide an ID badge, key card, and computer access, including pharmacy access for after-hours medication needs
  • Emergency room set up
  • Review x-ray and lab equipment
  • Explain how to arrange a Medivac transport
  • Emergency video calling capabilities (if applicable)
  • EHR training
  • Review any additional unique protocols of your facility

Share Contact Details 

Give your locum tenens provider the names and roles of key staff so they know who is responsible for various tasks/needs.

Assuring the provider knows things like who to call for a consultation and other beneficial contact information can be invaluable information when they are caring for patients. In addition, share contact information for the next level of care facility, and other community names and contact information they might need, such as EMT staff, police, state troopers, behavioral health, etc.

You’ll also want to share information about who will be on call with the provider and review scheduling.

Do you have an IT department or person? If so, introducing them to your locum tenens can be beneficial.

Make note of this list of important contacts to share:

  • Provide contact numbers for key personnel, including the chain of command – who do they call if there’s an emergency
  • Next level of care facility contact information
  • Community names and phone numbers – EMT, police, state troopers, behavioral health, etc.
  • IT support specialist

Upcoming Office Plans

Don’t forget to include the locum provider in upcoming office plans. If your staff has potluck lunches, birthday celebrations, or you’re doing something special for an upcoming holiday or event (Superbowl party, Halloween costume contest, holiday gift exchange, etc.) make sure they know about it in advance…it’s no fun to be left out, and also awkward to be included if you’re not prepared to participate.

At the same time, locum providers may not be able to take part as fully in some events due to work or call schedules, lack of supplies (they may not be able to participate in gift exchanges or costume parties, for example), or personal preference. Be sure to acknowledge that invitations to clinic events are just that, with no pressure to attend.

Community Information

locum tenens community

Many of the communities we serve are vastly different than what our locum tenens healthcare providers are accustomed to. Many providers permanently live in urban or suburban areas, so taking an assignment somewhere like a Native American village can be a new experience.

Getting to experience new communities and locations is often why locum tenens enjoy these assignments, though. At WMS, we provide as much detail to the providers about the community as we can, but it’s not the same as them getting to the assignment and seeing it first-hand.

When giving your locum tenens a tour of the community, a few things that are helpful to include on the tour are:

  • The location and business hours of the local market
  • The location of any recreation centers or community center facilities
  • Information about churches in the community
  • Notify the providers about community safety. In rural communities, the local wildlife can be dangerous when hiking alone, for instance.
  • Any specifics at the moment: approaching storms, a change in local transportation, an event that’s impacting the local community such as a celebration or funeral. Some communities and businesses may close for events, so sharing this information is valuable.

Some facilities we work with will pair a community member with a locum tenens=to help them to learn more about their surroundings and=the local culture. This can be invaluable for the locum tenens=to feel welcome and =adjust to their new assignment.

Beginning the Assignment

Adding a locum tenens to your healthcare facility can be beneficial for several reasons. Making sure they are prepared to successfully execute their assignment when they begin to work will make things smoother for the locum tenens, your staff, and your patients.

As the provider works through their assignment, it’s helpful to have your facility manager or staff contact check in with them to be sure they’re doing well both personally and professionally. WMS also checks in with providers and client contacts during assignments through surveys, personal emails, or texts.

A local manager may see a need or concern before WMS staff. We encourage our clients to communicate with WMS account executives and the provider on-site to ensure the best outcomes for everyone.

Conclusion

Ideally, the providers WMS sends on assignment will be a great fit for the facility and community. WMS often returns a provider to the same location, cementing an excellent working relationship between client and provider. This is the sweet spot for everyone when a provider and clinic staff are well acquainted and there are no surprises.

That said, even if a provider has been to your facility many times, there may be changes from one stay to the next. Shifts in staffing, management, equipment, call schedules, etc., still need to be communicated, if not before arrival, then at the beginning of the assignment.

Locum providers offer support in so many ways…taking part in the daily clinic schedule, the call schedule, and bridging staff vacancies when facilities are recruiting, or when permanent staff is out on leave. They’re a vital part of sustaining health care facilities in remote and small locations and deserve a warm and appreciative welcome.

Yes, they’re paid to be in your facility and may be very self-sufficient. But remember, they may be far from home, family, and everything familiar. Do your part to help them integrate into your environment and have a great experience. That’s the best way to ensure they’ll be open to returning when you have another need.

What have you done to create a warm welcome for your locum staff? Please share anything that your facility is doing that is unique! We’d love to pass on creative ideas to our clients, and we’re always looking for anything we can suggest to improve the locum experience for everyone involved!

If you’re interested in learning how Wilderness Medical Staffing can help with your staffing needs, contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.

We staff rural & remote locations. Learn More.

Emergency Courtesy License: What You Need to Know

(Please note: Emergency Courtesy Licenses through the Alaska Board of Nursing have been discontinued at this time. Emergency Courtesy Licenses through the Alaska State Medical Board expire on 7/1/2022. Previously issued ECLs will be valid until their expiration date, but new ECLs will not be issued.)

With COVID-19 shaping a new landscape for healthcare providers, certain prerequisites for working in the field of medicine have also changed. As a staffing agency, it’s part of our job to keep up with healthcare trends, which often means staying abreast of different requirements per state that we staff. One of the biggest changes in the last few years has been the adoption of an Emergency Courtesy License (or Courtesy License) for NPs, PAs, and physicians in the state of Alaska. In this article, we’ll break down what an Emergency Courtesy License is, how to attain one, and why they are useful for both healthcare providers and facilities hiring healthcare staff.

What is an Emergency Courtesy License?

According to the State of Alaska, for physicians and PAs, “an Emergency Courtesy License authorizes an individual to practice in Alaska during the period in which the Medical Board has determined an urgent health crisis exists.” Parameters for nurses and nurse practitioners are similar.

The emergency courtesy license is a temporary license for medical practitioners to practice medicine for a set duration of time under certain emergency conditions within the State of Alaska.

The license is good for 120 consecutive days, and then must be renewed for an additional 120 days. The emergency courtesy license can only be renewed once, for a total of 240 days (about 8 months).

We recommend that you consider the Emergency Courtesy License a temporary license and encourage all providers to also apply for a general medical or nursing license if you’re interested in working in Alaska, as well.

What Qualifies as an Emergency Condition to Attain an ECL?

At the time of this article being written, the only condition to be granted an Emergency Courtesy License is that you must be working to provide support for the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re a nurse practitioner or nurse, you will need to specify the reasons you will be working at the facility, including information about testing, treating COVID patients, or filling in for providers who are out sick due to COVID.

You must also submit information about the timeframe of your assignment and the location of the assignment. For nurse practitioners and nurses, this information must be filled out and submitted with your application.

emergency courtesy licenseWhy are Emergency Courtesy Licenses Useful?

Since COVID-19 hit, it’s been difficult to meet the needs of healthcare facilities promptly. Emergency Courtesy Licenses help us to bridge the gap and fill open positions sooner.

Emergency Courtesy Licenses are helpful to both medical providers and the facilities medical providers take assignments in. They allow medical providers to take assignments with less lead time going into the assignment. It helps facilities to fill open positions when there are more urgent staffing needs, which happens frequently in remote areas of Alaska. For the communities in need of medical providers, it helps to get high-quality medical providers licensed in Alaska, so they have the medical resources they need.

Emergency Courtesy Licenses are also helpful to staffing agencies like ours because we can market ECL-qualified job orders to providers who may not be licensed in Alaska yet. Again, helping to fill assignments with the best professionals for the job.

For all professions, Emergency Courtesy Licenses will be granted weeks or even months sooner than a permanent professional license.

How to Acquire an Emergency Courtesy License

Your profession will determine how you acquire an Emergency Courtesy License. Physicians and physician assistants can apply for ECLs through the Alaska State Medical Board. Nurse Practitioners and nurses will apply through the Alaska Board of Nursing.

The form fields differ slightly based on the profession you’re applying with, however, we have included a few guides on our Helpful Tools page to help you with applying. (See: Alaska Forms & Documentation > Emergency Courtesy Licenses.)

Before you get too far into the process, here are a few things you’ll want to know.

Nurse Practitioner Guidelines

If you’re an NP, you’ll need to obtain an emergency courtesy license as an RN and as an NP. To do this, you’ll fill out the application twice, but in Part II of the application, you’ll select RN on one version and APRN on the second. Please note that the fee for both applications is $200.

In addition, as an NP, you’ll need to complete Part V, “Documentation of ‘Urgent Situation.’” This is where you’ll need to include the location that you’ll be working at, the dates of your assignment, and why your assignment is COVID-related that were outlined earlier.

Physician Assistant and Physician Guidelines

Filling out the paperwork for a physician or physician assistant is slightly easier than that of a nurse practitioner, however, the fees are a bit more costly. You’ll have a non-refundable application fee of $100 and the Courtesy License Fee of $150. If you hold an active Alaska professional license and a DEA registration, then you’ll also be required to register with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which is another $25.

One caveat for physicians and physician assistants: you will need to have a valid medical license in the state where you physically reside for your ECL to be approved.

We recommend that all providers have an up-to-date DEA registration with the State of Alaska.

How Long Does It Take to Get the ECL Application Approved?

This can vary based on many factors, but we’re finding that for physicians and physician assistants, it’s taking about a month at the time of this writing.

For nurse practitioners, they are usually granted within 3 weeks, compared to the several months a standard license will take to be approved.

As a reminder, you should still apply for a permanent medical or nursing license and you also need to have a valid DEA registration.

Where to Apply

Physicians and physician assistants – Begin your application here.

Nurse practitioners – Begin your application here.

 

If you’re interested in working in Alaska as an NP, PA, or physician, view our Open Jobs page. If you’re curious about whether a job qualifies for a provider to have an Emergency Courtesy License, reach out to our recruiters for additional information about the position.

locum tenens jobs

 

Why Hire Locum Tenens for Your Rural Healthcare Facility

Staffing a healthcare facility with highly skilled medical providers is critical to its success. For hiring managers or medical directors who work in rural healthcare facilities, sometimes finding the right medical providers to fit into your facility and the community can be difficult. That’s why you should choose to hire locum tenens for your rural healthcare facility.

Locum tenens medical providers come with certain distinct benefits, especially in rural settings. Here’s why.

Locum Tenens Create Continuity of Care for Patients

Continuity of care for your patients is important whether you work at a small healthcare facility or a large healthcare consortium. Continuity of care can improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. When healthcare providers take a vacation, resign, or when patient volume increases, having another healthcare provider to take their place or lighten their workload can help to keep your medical facility running smoothly.

This is especially true in a rural setting, where you may only have one or a few healthcare providers on staff. Some of the healthcare facilities we work with only staff locum tenens healthcare providers who are solo capable because the communities they serve are so small. In these types of locations, it’s imperative that the community has a healthcare provider available to help, especially if emergency situations arise.

With locum tenens, you get the benefit of an experienced healthcare provider temporarily taking the place of an existing provider or filling in an opening you may otherwise have a hard time filling.

By hiring locum tenens, you often have a larger pool of talent to pick from because they temporarily fill positions. In rural locations, this can be appealing to medical providers who still wish to have a permanent residence in an urban area, but also enjoy practicing more meaningful medicine in rural locations.

At WMS, we specialize in staffing rural and remote locations with excellent medical providers. Learn more and fill out a staffing request form here.

Locum Tenens Helps to Combat Provider Burnout

Healthcare provider burnout is no secret to anyone in the healthcare industry. Healthcare professionals can get burnt out for a variety of reasons including patient load, bureaucracy, lack of autonomy, hectic work environments, and poor work/life balance. For many healthcare facilities, burnout is the number one reason they decide to hire locum tenens.

Why hire locum tenens in rural healthcare

Photo by WMS contracted provider, Torri P.

According to a report from Dovepress, burnout can cause, “lower patient satisfaction, impaired quality of care, even up to medical errors, potentially ending up in malpractice suits with substantial costs for caregivers and hospitals.”

Since many rural healthcare facilities require emergency medicine providers, burnout can be especially prevalent. In rural locations, burnout can happen due to isolation, as well, which is one reason many rural healthcare facilities often staff locum tenens medical providers.

Giving full-time providers a welcome break in rural healthcare facilities with locum tenens helps providers manage stress and combat many of the reasons they face burnout.

Hiring Locum Tenens Closes Gaps in Provider Coverage

Locum tenens providers give healthcare facilities more flexibility with their provider coverage. Some healthcare facilities use locum tenens to fill in temporarily for a permanent provider who will be away from the facility. Others rotate locum tenens providers into their overall staffing mix with permanent providers. By rotating the providers, there aren’t gaps in provider coverage and the locum tenens can cover the full-time workload of a permanent provider.

Locum tenens can also fill in the gap for the weekend, on-call shifts, and holidays. For healthcare facilities that staff permanent providers, this allows those medical practitioners an often needed, consistent break and a more manageable lifestyle. When the permanent providers are working, they can perform higher-quality healthcare because locum tenens are helping to fill in while they are not on a shift.

This type of scheduling can be a win for the locum tenens, as well. Locum tenens go into the position knowing when they will need to work and what their responsibilities will be once they arrive. If they have agreed to take on-call or holiday shifts, they may be anticipating making more pay for these types of shifts, which can be a great incentive to staff the locum tenens. Additionally, patients won’t lose care and permanent providers will enjoy a better work/life balance due to the locum tenens stepping in.

Hiring Locum Tenens Saves Healthcare Facilities Money

In rural healthcare missed shifts can be a big deal. Since rural facilities are smaller in size than their urban counterparts, the staff size is also smaller. If a medical provider is out sick, on vacation, or unable to cover shifts for certain parts of the day, this can be a burden for the community and healthcare facility.

Why hire locum tenens in rural healthcareFor the healthcare facility, missed shifts equal missed revenue. When providers can’t see patients, they cannot bill for medical services. This means no or lower-income is coming into the medical facility during these downtimes, depending on the additional medical services your facility may offer, such as labs. Staffing locum tenens helps to eliminate this downtime, so your facility can continue to treat patients and bill for those services.

In addition, compared to hiring a full-time permanent provider, with locum tenens, you don’t need to pay for relocation fees, workplace insurance, or other expenses that come with an on-staff employee. Since locum tenens are 1099 contractors at your facility, they are responsible for their insurance. If your facility works with a locum staffing agency, like Wilderness Medical Staffing, we’ll also facilitate “A+” medical malpractice insurance for any medical provider who we staff at your facility.

Locum Tenens Lets You Try New Employees Before Hiring

Sometimes, medical facilities like to trial locum tenens before hiring for permanent positions. Often, these are locum to permanent positions, so the medical provider goes into the position knowing that they may eventually be hired for a permanent role.

In other situations, the facility is intentionally staffing a locum tenens provider, who ends up being a great fit for the facility and a prospective candidate to convert to an on-staff team member. In these instances, facilities will typically buy out the staffing agency’s contract for the healthcare provider.

For rare occurrences that a locum tenens provider isn’t a good fit at your medical facility, it’s often easier to get a different provider to take over the role than it is to fill a permanent position. Especially when working with a staffing agency, like WMS, we handle the heavy lifting of working with the providers to become licensed and credentialed for the specific assignments our clients need to be staffed. We also hold preliminary interviews with the candidates to find the best fit for your team.

In comparison, it’s typically more difficult to hire a permanent provider in a rural location, so if it doesn’t work out, it can be even more costly to your organization. It can also cause more disruption for patient care for your community. Utilizing locum tenens can be a great way to ensure you’re choosing the best permanent provider for the role.

 

Staffing locum tenens for your rural healthcare facility can be a convenient and effective solution for your healthcare staffing needs. We’re here to help you through every step of the process.

We staff rural & remote locations. Learn More.

Now Staffing Healthcare Providers in Wyoming!

We are so excited to announce that Wilderness Medical Staffing is now staffing healthcare providers at remote and rural healthcare facilities in Wyoming.

The need for medical care, especially in rural and remote locations, continues to grow. Our expansion into Wyoming, allows us to better serve the communities who live there.

For our Wilderness Medical Staffing healthcare providers, this expansion into Wyoming gives them more job openings to choose from, while helping the medical facilities maintain continuity of care with their patients.

Noah McWilliams, WMS co-CEO says, “The natural, rural landscape of Wyoming made it an obvious choice for the next state we wanted to expand into. Since we currently already staff in the northwest United States, expanding our services into Wyoming allows us to offer positions for our existing and new providers who are licensed in that state. It also helps health facilities in Wyoming to staff their facilities so the people who live there can receive high-quality medical care.”

We currently staff locum tenens and permanent healthcare providers including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physicians in Montana, Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming.

View our open jobs or contact us to work with us.

staff rural and remote locations