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How to Prepare for a Locum Tenens Physician to Join your Staff

By Tim Callahan09 May 2018

Since 2012, the use of locum tenens physicians for physician staffing has gone up 20%. Locum tenens can help your hospital retain existing patients and acclimate new patients while maintaining revenue. They’ve also become a viable solution to the problem of surgeon burnout.locum-tenens-1.jpg

There are risks. While other traveling personnel like nurses or allied healthcare providers have the luxury of longer contracts, locums often don’t have much time to get adjusted. If trained incorrectly, a locum tenens physician can actually cost your hospital money, sometimes to the tune of $2,000 a day. Today we’ll look at 8 ways to prepare for a locum tenens physician, and how to get them up-to-date quickly.

Schedule a training or shadowing opportunity

Even though locum tenens physicians are used to working on the fly, extending an invitation for a brief meeting, or an opportunity to shadow you will go a long way in making their transition smoother. Additionally, transfer your patient panel through a face-to-face meeting or phone call. Studies show that there is a 30% drop in the error rate when handing-off in person.

Notify your staff

Prepare your staff for the arrival of your locum as far in advance as possible. This will give them plenty of time to ask any questions, and clarify roles and responsibilities.

Put together a welcome packet

Does your locum tenens know where to park? It may sound like a silly question, but communicating those often missed logistics will help your new locum navigate the hospital more easily. Create a welcome packet that includes:

  • Site maps.
  • Parking instructions.
  • Orientation schedule.
  • Hospital policies and procedures.
  • Door key codes (if applicable).
  • ID badge instructions.
  • EMR login and password.
  • Dictation codes.
  • Cafeteria location and hours.
  • A hospital directory with key phone numbers highlighted.
  • Numbers and contacts for pharmacies and social services.

Designate a welcome buddy

Who will greet your new locum tenens? Who is the point of contact if they have any issues? Make sure you designate a reliable, experienced staff member to be the touchpoint for your locum so they’re not slowing down the rest of your staff by asking questions.


Working with a new EHR system can be a huge time-waster for a locum tenens. It’s best to set up a training for your EHR system, and have a login and password created beforehand. Having an IT person sit with the locum during their first couple entries is even better.

Ensure all admission and discharge documentation is complete.

Being asked to discharge patients you’ve never met or treated is extremely difficult. The day before your locum arrives, make sure all the admission and discharge documentation is completed or prepped to avoid delays or confusion.

Make sure your locum is in the PECOS system

In order to bill for their medical services, your locum needs to be in the PECOS system for Medicare. If you don’t prepare the necessary documentation, you could be losing out on millions of dollars. The regular physician bills and receives payments for the locum’s services, so maintain thorough records and double check how the codes are entered.

While it may take a bit of work, getting your locum tenen physician up to speed quickly is making the most out of your investment. Allowing for the right training, preparation, and guidance will ensure that your locum can slip into your shoes without wasting valuable time.

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