Credentialing for Locum Tenens: Everything Healthcare Facilities Need to Know

It’s a fact of modern medicine that credentialing is a complex and essential part of adding a new provider to staff, whether it be for a clinic, hospital, or other medical environment. Long gone are the days when a diploma and medical license were sufficient credentials to practice medicine. In this article, we will discuss credentialing for locum tenens, with everything you need to know about credentialing as a healthcare facility.

Credentialing Differences Based on Your Facility Size

If your facility is large enough to have a dedicated medical staff office, then likely you have employees whose primary responsibility is to prepare credentialing files for each provider as they join the organization. The same staff would also monitor certifications and licensure to ensure that the provided credentials are continuously updated, and they would also submit updated files to the governing board for review regularly. Often credentialing is renewed on a two-year cycle.

If your facility is smaller, you may outsource credentialing, or perhaps someone on staff is knowledgeable about the process of credentialing and performs the task as a part of their job.

As a staffing agency dealing with medical organizations of all sizes, we see the breadth of the credentialing process, ranging from minimum standards to the most onerous and detailed requirements that must be completed before a provider can see the first patient.

The Purpose of Credentialing Healthcare Providers

These processes are in place for several reasons:

  • Credentialing protects against an individual fraudulently passing themselves off as a legitimate and skilled provider.
  • Credentialing ensures that the certifications they’ve acquired are up to date (meaning their knowledge and skills are up to current best practice standards).
  • Credentialing confirms that the state has reviewed their records and documents and approved them to practice.

This level of scrutiny ensures that only providers who meet defined and accepted standards will be allowed to practice, and the medical facility, in essence, represents to patients that they have done the work to screen staff and ensure only well-trained and qualified providers will see patients.

Must Know Credentialing Basics

To be sure we’re clear on terminology, you need to know the difference between credentialing and privileging, and which documents may be collected for one or both steps of the process before working in a facility.

Credentialing is the process of assessing and confirming the license or certification, education, training, and other qualifications of a licensed or certified healthcare provider.

During credentialing a facility will collect the following documentation:

  • Diploma
  • Training certificates (ie. residency, fellowship)
  • State licensure
  • Board certification

Additional documents may include:

  • Immunization records
  • TB testing
  • Documentation of COVID vaccines
  • Background check
  • National Provider Data Bank Query
  • DEA
  • NPI number
  • Drug testing
  • Updated CV, including work history and current peer and supervisor references
  • Skills Checklist or Procedure Log

Privileging, on the other hand, is the process of authorizing a healthcare provider’s specific scope and content of patient care services. Some organizations have their own privileging applications that must be completed to begin credentialing, in addition to collecting provider documents.

Privileging is completed after all the provider’s credentialing documents are collected, and their file is presented to the facility’s governing body for review and approval to be on staff at the facility. This must be done before the provider can legally see patients at the facility.

How WMS Helps Facilities to Credential New Providers

If you’ve worked with other staffing agencies in the past this process may be different, but the information below outlines how Wilderness Medical Staffing helps facilities to credential new providers.

It’s important to note that it is ultimately the facility’s responsibility to credential providers, but at Wilderness Medical Staffing, we assist with the collection of documentation to make this process run as smoothly as possible. You may find credentialing assistance varies based on the agency or agencies that you are working with.

Step 1: Meeting

When we work with a new facility, our staff meets with the facility contacts to determine their credentialing process, including the specific documents they require from a provider to meet their privileging standards.

Step 2: Updating Our Internal Database

Once we know the requirements a facility has for its credentialing process, we add that information to the facility’s profile in our system. When we have a new provider who will be working at that facility, we already know what they’ll need to submit to become privileged to work. Having this information on hand allows us to look for providers who will be ready to meet the credentialing requirements and screen out anyone who won’t meet the facility’s standards or needs.

(All WMS providers meet our internal high standards, but some providers have advanced levels of training or unique credentials that allow them to work anywhere, while others are limited by their specific types of training or experience. For instance, not all of our providers have ER training. Some providers are not certified to see children or infants. When we look for providers who will be appropriate for an assignment, we consider many factors and present only those who have the needed skills and experience for the job. But all WMS providers must meet a broad range of critical standards as required by WMS policy.)

WMS has a standard list of documents we collect from providers, including everything listed above. We date documents that have expiration dates, and we assure that any provider we present for consideration for an assignment will have current licensure and certifications in hand before being presented.

Step 3: Accounting for Special Considerations

Wrapped into this process, for anything specific needed by the type of provider, such as collaborative plans or supervisory agreements for physician assistants, we ensure that these are in place so they can legally practice. We work closely with state board offices in the states where we staff to stay current with regulatory updates. Generally, we take care of filing these documents with the state board to take that task off the facility staff.

Step 4: Document Collection

All the documents we collect, share, or submit are in digital form. This allows us to be very efficient, and we can provide any document we have in our database via email for almost instant delivery.

To streamline the process of providers completing documents unique to a specific facility, we request a digital copy of the document (such as a privileging application) that we then have the provider complete via our digital platform, which we then submit to the facility on their behalf. We’re able to submit documents to state boards in the same fashion, using the secure methods of digital technology to authenticate and document legal and binding signatures.

Step 5: Sending the Documents to the Healthcare Facility

When we assist with credentialing a new provider with a facility, we typically send all the required documents as soon as possible, and stay in close contact with facility staff to ensure they have everything necessary to expedite privileging. Essentially, WMS acts as a bridge between provider and facility, working with both to facilitate the smooth and timely transfer of provider documents to credentialing staff.

How Facilities Can Assist with Provider Credentialing

Every facility is different and has different requirements for credentialing a healthcare provider. Since healthcare facilities work closely with our team to make the credentialing process a smooth one, here are ways to assist. Whether you work with WMS or a different staffing agency, the points below are always helpful!

Assign a Point of Contact Between Your Facility and Your Staffing Agency

Early in the process of getting acquainted with facility staff, we’ll identify individuals who are our contacts for credentialing. At WMS, if we staff a facility frequently, our operations team will quickly become familiar with the facility’s processes and contacts, and we can make a challenging and complex job much easier.

Having a consistent and knowledgeable point of contact for our staff will smooth the way for everyone. If your main point of contact for credentialing will be out of the office, please let us know who we will be working with in their absence.

If credentialing stalls, that can threaten an assignment going forward on time, and in some cases may cause the assignment to be canceled. Although that rarely happens, WMS will never send a provider on assignment who hasn’t met or completed all requirements to be legally working at your site.

Provide and Allow Digital Forms

If you can provide digital forms or allow WMS to add your forms to our digital platform, that will greatly expedite matters.

Allowing for digital signatures, whether that be for contracts and rate sheets, or other legal documents will also make a big difference to the speed at which we move.

Streamline Requirements

Streamlining the requirements for credentialing would be helpful too. Are there requirements still in place that are no longer necessary for your facility? Can you review your governing board’s process and look for ways to expedite privileging?

Consider Emergency Credentialing

If your facility allows for emergency credentialing, please be sure to inform WMS staff, including identifying the documents you must have in place before a provider can practice. The ability to swiftly credential a new provider can make the difference in WMS finding coverage for a last-minute staffing need, or not being able to fill the opening. If your organization doesn’t allow emergency credentialing, we will look for previously credentialed providers who can cover your open dates, but this does limit us to a smaller pool, particularly when the need for coverage is urgent.

How Providers Can Assist with Credentialing

WMS providers are experienced and know what is generally expected of them. They understand that credentialing is part of the process to work with a new organization, and although completing forms and submitting documents may not be their favorite thing to do, they know it’s mandatory. Typically, they will send updated digital records of certifications and licensure or any document that has a recurring expiration date.

Providers who are responsive, prompt, and proactive about providing documentation are a pleasure to work with, and we appreciate individuals who stay on top of expiration dates and email requests. These providers are attentive to detail, and we consider this factor when we are presenting a provider for consideration.

How Can We All Improve the Credentialing Process?

We’re often asked about the task of credentialing: how can we make it easier, streamline the whole process, and take more off both the provider and facilities? The truth is we’re doing everything we can, with every assignment, to make the experience smooth, efficient, and pleasant. Our staff are experts in this area, and we work diligently to keep our documents up to date and to be current with best practices and state regulations (in every state where we staff). As we’ve been able to convert to all-digital documents, utilize a platform that allows us to create digital documents for legal signatures, and submit verified documents via email, our efficiencies have only increased.

But we’re not ones to rest on our laurels! We regularly assess and consider using new tools to improve our processes, and as new tools become available, we’ll pivot to anything that gives us measurable and sustainable improvement.

If you have suggestions for anything we could add or change in this area, please let us know. We’re open to suggestions, and we appreciate hearing from people in our industry! We know we’re all in this together.


Thank you to everyone who helps to make credentialing easier, and for your vital contribution to ensuring that only providers who are thoroughly screened and approved see patients!

If you need healthcare providers, we’re always here to help – even with the credentialing process! Reach out to us to see if we’re the right fit for your staffing needs.

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