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Donna Goestenkors

By: Donna Goestenkors on April 25th, 2016

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Part 2: Making Locum Tenens Part of Your Staffing Solution

Medical Staff Services | Medical Service Professionals | Payor

In Part 1 of our blog series, Making Locum Tenens Part of Your Staffing Solution, we discussed the quality markers of a top locum tenens staffing agency. With pressures mounting to maintain a high-standard of healthcare during a growing clinical workforce shortage, organizations are increasingly partnering with locum tenens agencies to fill physician and medical professional vacancies.

Coinciding with the practitioner shortage is a growing number of highly skilled and experienced practitioners looking to transition into locum tenens roles and responsibilities – even in specialties ranging from anesthesiology to cardiology. This growing pool of talent allows organizations and agencies to apply higher hiring standards, increasing the overall quality of care provided by these practitioners.

Stronger Locum Tenens Hiring Standards                                                                                    

It is essential for a reliable locum tenens agency to have a readily available number of skilled and prepared practitioners to fill vacancies during peak workloads, staff vacations, and training. This makes the screening and preparation of locum tenens candidates increasingly important for staffing agencies. The bottom-line: client organizations only want to onboard the most qualified professionals so they can maintain services and ensure revenue streams.

Best practices, such as screening practitioners through reviews and skill assessments, mean staffing agencies can enforce high standards and maintain a rigorous hiring process. A recent study by the Journal of Healthcare Management found that 85% of locum tenens physicians are board certified[1]. This is a stark contrast to the 65% of physicians who responded by saying they were actively employed either through private means or within a hospital setting[2].

Moreover, a survey conducted by Staff Care found that healthcare organizations are increasingly satisfied with the quality of care provided by temporary physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, dentists, and other healthcare professionals. When health facility managers were asked to rate the skill level of locum tenens physicians[3]:

  • 71% responded as good or excellent
  • 27% responded as satisfactory
  • 1% responded as unsatisfactory

It is more than likely that these temporary professionals get top marks in client satisfaction and capability because both sides have put in place the processes necessary to help them seamlessly assimilate into their new roles. These processes stress packaging the practitioner’s credentials so they can move fluidly throughout the hiring system.

Screening Within the Onboarding Process

For most staffing agencies, they find the best solution is to have recruiters actively work with client organizations to match locum tenens practitioners with specific roles and vacancies. Depending on the client organization and the state where they are located, locum tenens practitioners will need to meet a specific standard of credentials and privileging criteria.

Prior to qualifying, practitioner candidates will need to pass a drug test and background check. For most organizations, drug testing has become standard practice with the background check varying from state-to-state or based on specific job responsibilities. In particular, a candidate’s malpractice history will draw even greater scrutiny.

Reviewing Liability Policy and History

Most organizations and agencies follow The Joint Commission (TJC) and the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) standards of liability policy review to qualify for credentialing. The NCQA standards take into consideration the practitioner’s current professional liability policy and previous 10-year incident history, including claims, lawsuits, and settlements[4].

Historically, The Joint Commission has allowed organizations to grant temporary privileges to locum tenens practitioners as long as they are compliant with federal regulations and meet the definition of temporary privileges as stipulated in TJC Standards. This allows states and agencies to apply even stricter rules and standards.

The Influence of Orientation On Locum Tenens Success

What next? After passing technical screenings, the candidate’s resume and FPPE are kept by the agencies and then shared with the client organization. If a hiring arrangement is made, the candidate will then begin the organization’s credentialing and orientation process. This is a critical part in their journey where they learn more about the organization’s expectations and culture.

In a recent survey of locum tenens physicians, the majority of physicians had a strong interest in having a clear understanding of their workload[5] and expectations. Providing an in-depth orientation and onboarding process early means your temporary talents have a much better grasp of expectations and hours. This allows the locum tenens practitioner to quickly integrate within the organization’s system with minimal on-the-job training required, lessening the learning curve.

With the looming practitioner shortage, integrating your locum tenens staff swiftly and smoothly has become a major priority for large hospitals and healthcare providers. Want to accelerate the time it takes to get your locum tenens practitioners integrated into your system? Learn more about symplr and our enterprise-grade credentialing solution. Schedule a demo today!


[1] Adam G. “Locum Tenens Physician: Good for your hospital?” LabSpaces.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Phillip M. “2015 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends”. Staff Care.

[4] Carol C. “Credentialing Hoopla”.

[5] Phillip M. “2015 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends”. Staff Care.


About 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.