Questions to Ask Before Accepting Your First Locum Tenens Assignment

Posted on: July 28, 2015

written by

Kate Brown

You have decided to try locum tenens work for the first time. This can be a confusing time, and it is perfectly understandable that you might have a few questions. It is important to ask these questions to determine if the assignment is a good match, and to ensure you have a positive experience. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive to get you off to a running start!

Do I need to pay my locum tenens company a fee?

A healthcare facility contracts with a locum tenens agency to find them a provider for their locum tenens position. As the provider who fills the position, you should never have to pay the locum tenens company to find you a job. Barton Associates provides this service for free, and covers a variety of other benefits including malpractice insurance and travel costs on your behalf.

What are my roles and responsibilities while on assignment?

It is important that you as the provider have a very clear and accurate picture of the job you are signing up for.  These questions should cover expectations of the facility, responsibilities of past providers in this position, patient load, etc. You need to feel comfortable heading into your new role, and make sure you are the right provider for this practice. Here are some examples of questions you should ask:
  • What types of procedures does the practice typically perform?
  • Are any types of procedures required?
  • What is your typical patient load?
  • What are your expectations for me over the course of this assignment?
When it comes to your job duties, there is no such thing as too many questions; ask about anything that concerns you. You don’t want to travel to the likely far away location and find out that this job isn’t the one you thought you signed up for!

What type of paperwork will I be responsible for?

Arguably, the biggest burden of locum tenens work is paperwork, and the best way to offset that burden is to get and stay organized. Keep all your documents updated and in one place. Scan everything into your computer so you can easily submit paperwork. It is important to ask how involved the credentialing is for your locum tenens assignment. How long is it expected to take? If you have a confirmed start date, you want to be certain that there is enough time to obtain privileges. At Barton, we have a designated credentialing team that will take the lead on all of your credentialing, drastically reducing your paperwork responsibilities.

What will my typical schedule look like?

Ask many questions about your work schedule. Don’t just ask about the hours that occur Monday to Friday. Make sure to ask if there is a weekend schedule, a call schedule (both nights and weekends), and what the protocol is for holidays. During inclement weather seasons, you should also ask what their protocol is for weather emergencies.

How do I coordinate travel?

One of the perks of working with a locum tenens agency is that all your travel is typically arranged and paid for. You should ask questions to be sure this is the case, and ask a lot of questions in regards to your lodging. Sometimes a client facility will have housing, or the doctor who needs coverage will allow the locum tenens provider to use his or her home. Ask if you can arrive a few days before your assignment so you can become acclimated with the area. Be honest with your recruiter about what you are looking for in terms of lodging. Usually your requirements (proximity to client facility, kitchen, etc.) can be accommodated within reason.

What do I do once my first day on assignment is here?

Getting the details right for your first day is very important. You should ask your recruiter what time to arrive on your first day, what to wear, where to park, where to enter the building, who to ask for upon arrival, copies of key policies and procedures that might be helpful to review ahead of time, and any other necessary items. Showing up prepared and on time on your first day is the best way to get off to a good start.

What are the time recording requirements and payment terms?

You should ask questions in order to understand how the locum tenens company deals with time recording and processes payments. Barton Associates pays our locum tenens providers NET 15 (if timesheets are submitted on time), but other companies do things differently. You should ask about payment terms, timesheet deadlines, who is the appropriate person to approve your timesheet, and where to send your timesheet. You should ask if you can get direct deposit, that way your paychecks can be deposited in your account and not mailed to your home while you are on assignment. When it comes to choosing your first locum tenens assignment you can never ask enough questions. You want to ask as many as you can and leave nothing unanswered; no stone unturned. A great recruiter should never make you feel bad about asking so many questions and should guide you through this process. Barton Associates recruiters and fulfillment specialists are locum tenens experts, and they will guide you every step of the way!
About Kate Brown

Working with Barton since 2003, Kate Brown previously worked in provider relations on the Barton Associates' national accounts team. She visited residencies and training programs to educate up-and-coming healthcare providers about locum tenens. She spent eight years working as a recruiter in a variety of practice areas, including radiology, anesthesiology, surgery, and primary care. Kate received her B.A. in Communications and her MBA in Organizational Leadership from Rivier College in Nashua, NH.

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