At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we staff locum tenens and permanent placement physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in remote and rural locations throughout the Northwest United States and Alaska. We’re a small staffing agency because we’d rather have high-quality providers working with our clients than a huge database of providers who can’t cut it when they work in a rural facility.
As a locum tenens candidate, you have to get through pre-screening with WMS before we’ll consider you for positions with our clients in their medical facilities. It’s imperative to us that any provider we’re going to submit for an open position is going to be able to do the job at a high level. This means that knowing how to stand out is critical for working with us and being successfully placed in positions.
So, what does it take to be an amazing locum tenens medical provider? We asked our CMO (Chief Medical Officer) Mary Ellen Doty to share what qualities our clients look for when selecting a locum tenens provider. Here are her key insights:
You Need to Have Excellent Medical Skills and Experience
We know that to be a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, you already have had plenty of schooling before you were able to give yourself that title. Since we specialize in helping rural and remote communities, it often means needing to have some additional experience beyond education.
For many of the locations we staff, you may be immersed into a community where they need a solo-capable provider with excellent emergency skills. This means that having a few years of experience under your belt, especially in emergency medicine, can often be helpful when it comes to being qualified for positions at the medical facilities we staff.
In addition, many of our providers have one or more of the following additional certifications.
ATLS – Advanced Trauma Life Support
ATLS is very important for most of our providers to have. ATLS was developed by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma (COT) and was first introduced in the US and abroad in 1980. You can learn more about ATLS and find available courses here. Being certified in ATLS is so important to us at WMS, that we sometimes host ATLS courses for our providers. Contact us to learn if we have any courses coming up.
ACLS – Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
This course builds on the skills from the BLS (Basic Life Support) certification. This course hosted by the American Heart Association is intended for healthcare professionals who either direct or participate in the management of cardiopulmonary arrest or other cardiovascular emergencies and for personnel in emergency response.
PALS – Pediatric Advanced Life Support
PALS certification is given through the American Heart Association. PALS is for healthcare providers who respond to emergencies in infants and children and for personnel in emergency response, emergency medicine, intensive care, and critical care units.
CALS – Comprehensive Advanced Life Support
The CALS certification is a Minnesota-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, specifically designed for medical providers who are working in rural, remote, and global emergency departments.
All physicians who work with us are expected to be board certified in their field.
You Must Be Respectful, Professional, and Adaptable
As a locum tenens staffing agency, our providers are typically short-term guests at healthcare facilities. Because we are in the unique position of staffing rural and remote locations, many times, our providers have opportunities to be immersed in and learn from other cultures. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you are respectful, professional, and adaptable.
In addition, it’s also extremely important for WMS providers to model professionalism by being patient-focused. One of the perks of working in rural and wilderness locations is the relationships that can be built with the people of the towns and villages you may work in. Therefore, being extremely patient-focused is key. In rural healthcare, patients are people and not just a number.
Keeping diligent charts is also expected of our WMS providers. This ensures that the quality of medical care is well-communicated, especially if information needs to be shared with additional healthcare providers. As a locum tenens, you are only a temporary provider in the medical facility, so making sure that other providers who come in after you can decipher your notes and treat patients with continuity of care is important.
Being a team player is a necessity, as well. Not only will you need to work closely with your WMS account executive and operations associates before and during your assignment, but you’ll also be joining an existing team of medical providers where you are placed. Being able to adapt to and work with these people is critically important to a successful placement.
Finally, in rural and remote locations, being adaptable is imperative. Not only will you need to adapt to the various facilities you’ll work in, but rural medicine involves a whole new set of unique challenges including weather, travel, and limited support or resources. While our providers go into their assignments ahead of time with the understanding of the challenges that may arise, it’s hard to fully encapsulate them without first-hand experience. Knowing that you’ll need to adapt will help you to make sure you have a successful assignment.
Know Your Availability
Many locum tenens medical providers enjoy being a locum tenens because it allows for some flexibility in scheduling. For us to best match you with job openings, knowing your availability is extremely helpful.
At Wilderness Medical Staffing, we staff short (less than one week), medium (one week to one month), and long-term (one month or longer) medical assignments. Since our locum tenens medical providers are 1099 contactors, we understand that you may have another job that you’re wishing to work locum tenens assignments around. You may even work with other staffing agencies (although we hope we’re your #1) and want to pick up assignments that will fit into scheduling assignments with those other companies.
Communicating your availability and job length preferences will help our team at WMS to find the jobs that fit you the best. This helps us to get you into positions more efficiently and helps the medical facilities that we work with to fill their openings quickly when needed.
This likely goes without saying, but a key factor in being a successful locum tenens candidate is to be reliable. When one of our providers agrees to take on an assignment, and the client of the medical facility accepts the provider to fill the role, we consider the position filled.
Our providers must follow through on the commitment they make to take locum tenens assignments. Because we staff rural and remote locations, this is even more important than it might otherwise be in an urban medical setting.
For instance, let’s say we’re staffing a small clinic in a remote village in Alaska, and the medical provider who we’ve assigned to staff that clinic backs out. It not only leaves the clinic without a medical provider, but it could mean the community who lives there has no medical support. This can cause devastating effects on the communities that we take pride in serving.
If you’re going to be a Wilderness Medical Staffing candidate, you need to be reliable. We are counting on you. Our clients are counting on you. And the communities we serve are counting on you.
Be Proficient in Technology
Even the most remote medical facilities use EMR (electronic medical records) or EHR (electronic health records) systems. For our locum tenens healthcare providers, having experience with a variety of these systems is often very useful. If you aren’t familiar with many EMR or EHR systems, having the willingness to learn how to use them will help you to acclimate to new job assignments. For our clients, it can be a challenge when their new medical provider isn’t willing to adapt to existing systems.
In addition, depending on the assignment, you may also need to collect and process lab samples, read and interpret x-rays, or use additional technological equipment that you haven’t had to use in the past. For our providers, being comfortable with diving in and learning new medical technological equipment can make you stand out above the rest. It not only will make the position you’re filling easier, but it will help the facility to have a capable provider who is ready for anything.
Being organized is a huge must of being a locum tenens medical provider. Having your licenses, certifications, and curriculum vitae up to date and accessible via a PDF will help you to get onboarded with Wilderness Medical Staffing. These documents also help us to submit you more quickly and efficiently to our clients at medical facilities.
Again, since you will typically be submitted for positions along with other WMS medical providers, having your documentation organized can give you a competitive edge. Not only that, but many of our clients will also work with other locum tenens staffing agencies. Therefore, you’re not only potentially competing with WMS providers for positions, but you may be competing against additional providers from other medical staffing firms, as well. When we can submit all the information our clients need promptly and orderly, it’s very helpful for securing a WMS candidate into the assignments.
Submitting qualified candidates swiftly and with the proper documentation and pre-screening already done, it’s helpful for our internal team and clients and can provide a winning situation for our providers, as well.
If you’re new to working locum tenens and this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. We have helpful guides on our website, and our team is highly skilled at working with providers to make sure you have everything you’ll need to be a successful locum tenens candidate.
If you’re interested in becoming a provider with Wilderness Medical Staffing, download our handy guide including “Six Ways To Stand Out as a Locum Tenens Candidate.”
Also, be sure to contact us so our team can talk to you more about becoming a locum tenens provider with Wilderness Medical Staffing