Prioritizing Culture in Your Locum Tenens Onboarding Program

Most healthcare entities that bring in locum tenens practitioners come to a hiring decision based on a candidate’s certification, malpractice history, and work history. Yet, the most challenging criteria when selecting a candidate is how well they will fit into your work culture.

Hiring locum tenens practitioners who accept your organization’s values and beliefs can make all the difference in their successful integration into your medical staff. While skills can be standardized and conformed through a set of rules, culture is developed by the norms and actions of its members over time. Simply put, clashing cultures can make integration difficult and ultimately, impact the quality of care.

The Impact of a Winning Culture

With the physician shortage growing more severe each year, healthcare organizations want to hire the right locum tenens practitioners the first time around. Culture can have a major influence over a candidate’s communication style and how they react to certain situations.

For example, cultures that are highly patient-centered place a higher value on patient communication and nurturing abilities. Being patient-centered can be highly effective in environments where patients are emotional and delicate, such as a maternity ward or pediatric intensive care unit. As such, practitioners would be expected to prioritize patient comfort and have healthy emotional release practices.

If locum tenens practitioners are a poor cultural fit, they can find it challenging and stressful to perform their responsibilities. More than likely, practitioners who are not a good fit to the culture would be more prone to make mistakes and feel a wavering commitment to the healthcare entity.

How to Determine Cultural Fit

Typically, healthcare entities would establish core values that act as their organization’s guiding principles. These core values set the framework for how organizations determine the best path forward to complete their goals. When interviewing locum tenens candidates, asking behavioral questions can help determine how well a candidate would match with the organization’s core values. This is essential in determining cultural fit.

For starters, you should organize questions by identifying key potential scenarios that the locum tenens practitioner may encounter on the job. For example, if your clinic’s core value is a commitment to safety, ask a question about a time they saw a manager break a safety code. This can give insight into their ability to handle difficult situations and help you determine their confidence in delivery and subject matter.

Another key way to help new staff during the onboarding process is to get department heads or a mentor to help socialize them with their colleagues. Then, you can ask their colleagues and the department heads or mentor to offer feedback on how well they fit into the culture.

Develop Your Winning Culture in Offboarding

Did you know establishing a productive offboarding program can be just as important as an onboarding program? Most locum tenens staffing agencies request feedback about their practitioner’s performance at their commitment’s end.

This is a great opportunity to coordinate exit interviews with the locum tenens practitioner and agency for feedback about your work culture’s quality. Locum tenens practitioners are more likely to respond openly with their agency during an exit interview. Not only is this information valuable in helping to fine-tune your work culture, it also gives the agency valuable information to better pair candidates to your future needs. Ultimately, this will benefit your onboarding program.

In the long run, developing a winning work culture requires consistent maintenance and effective practices. No doubt, work cultures provide the medical staff with a framework to achieve their organization’s goals. How well a locum tenens practitioner’s values integrate into your work culture can be evaluated through behavioral interviews and performance reviews throughout the onboarding and offboarding programs.

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Want to establish an effective offboarding program? Tune into our webcast series, Locum Tenens Credentialing. The webcast is presented by our special guests Donna Goestenkors, CPMSM of Team Med Global Consulting, LLC., Susan Collier of CHG Healthcare Services, and Tammy Pressnall of Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

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Donna Goestenkors

About the Author
Donna Goestenkors

Donna is a full time healthcare consultant, speaker, author, educator, and mentor serving the Medical Staff Services industry for over 40 years. Her diverse project experience includes assignments in every work environment and rapport building among all levels of professional and executive staff. Donna is a past President of NAMSS and her client work covers all of the industry's environments from Healthcare Systems to critical access hospitals.

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