Beginning your locum tenens career is an exciting move! It presents flexibility and an opportunity to enjoy a hassle-free lifestyle. Filling such a position offers new physicians a chance to begin their careers in medicine while managing medical school debts. As for physicians who previously worked in a permanent role, this lifestyle offers the freedom to travel and take control over their own schedules. However, transitioning into locum tenens work can seem like an overwhelming and daunting experience at first.
If you want to make your experience easier and more convenient, take a look at these tips to guide you through the process.
1. Identify Your Scope of Practice
Locum tenens work provides you with the freedom to do what you want to do. However, before you start on your job, you must know what exactly will be your role in the clinic or hospital you are assigned to. This is crucial as it will help you manage your expectations and prepare you for the actual job. You might already have years of experience or sufficient medical knowledge, but it’s still best to know your scope of practice in your new location. Clinical protocols may vary per site, hence, you might need to familiarize yourself with the clinic’s operational flow. Aside from that, learning how the system works will also help you perform more efficiently and independently.
2. Know What You Want
Flexibility is the biggest opportunity that a locum tenens job can offer. You have to take advantage of this opportunity by making your own choices. You can try experimenting with different schedules, locations, and assignments to see what would work best for you. A locum tenens hospitalist, TheLocumGuy.com, strongly advises against letting your employer choose your lifestyle and income. With the flexibility that the job offers, you no longer have to stick with a schedule you don’t want or a location you don’t prefer staying in.
To make the most of a locum tenens job, you first need to identify what you want. Ultimately, once you already know your needs and expectations, talk to your recruiter. You have to communicate effectively with them about your experience, comfort, and expertise. Negotiate well, and go for an option that fits your schedule, desired salary rate, and location. You no longer have to settle for working terms and conditions that you don’t enjoy.
3. Review Your Employment Contract
Before you sign your contract for a locum tenens job, make sure you’ve clearly understood all of the terms presented in the contract. If there is any vague information, ask for further clarification. If you’re still not sure about the offer, try to talk to other locum tenens hospitalists you know, or do some research online. Other people’s insight into the terms and their feedback on the job will help you fully assess if you’re getting the best deal out of the contract. You must ask about the work assignment and payment structure, too, in order to avoid future issues.
4. Get Oriented Before Starting
Onboarding usually involves an introduction to the facility and the people you will be working with. You shouldn’t go easy on your queries during the orientation as this is your chance to fully understand how the system works. On your first day at your locum tenens job, you have to ask all the right questions. Since this is a new environment, you have to make sure that you are comfortable with the facility. Are you familiar with their electronic health records system? Do you need to use a piece of equipment that you don’t know how to operate? Do you know the coding and documentation practices? If not, you need to request further training or instructions.
5. Stay Organized
Whether you are doing part-time or full-time locum tenens work, make sure you stay organized. Keep tabs on your shift schedule or work assignment. This will help you avoid any issues of schedule conflicts. Maintaining a record of your paperwork, assignments, and paycheck is very important as well. You should also consider keeping receipts of job expenses for tax adjustments. If you need assistance with your taxes and financial strategies as an independent contractor, consulting a professional accountant can be a big help.
A locum tenens job is perfect for those who want a shift in their career, seek to enjoy its flexibility or those who are preparing for retirement. However, switching to locum tenens work does require some careful planning and preparation. Change is inevitable in any career, so being dynamic and proactive is necessary for a smooth transition.