A road map can guide locum tenens travels

Working as a locum tenens has become more alluring to physicians with varying levels of experience.

Working as a locum tenens has become more alluring to physicians with varying levels of experience. Locum tenens can be an ideal solution for physicians who want to work regularly without the administrative issues commonly associated with private practice. This applies to physicians finishing residency, those wanting to travel or try different clinical settings, or semi-retired physicians who wish to keep their skills up to date. It has also become quite common to fill in for physician absences or for those who simply need a little rest and relaxation.

Today, locum tenens is the fastest growing area of health care staffing, undergoing a 12% annual growth rate, with accelerating growth expected for the next two years.

There are a few tips that may help physicians considering locum tenens careers as well as practices considering hiring potential locum tenens physicians. These issues must be spelled out in the employment contract. Here are some of the more pertinent issues that ACP's Regulatory and Insurer Affairs department said should be addressed when negotiating an agreement:

Receipt of payment. Make sure there are provisions in place that clearly address when and how payment will be made for services provided by the locum tenens.

Coverage of work-related travel. Include in the contract agreement the terms regarding who is responsible for paying up-front costs incurred for travel-related expenses.

Lodging. Make billing arrangements clear prior to the start date so there are no misunderstandings about who is responsible.

Malpractice insurance. The contract should specify what type of malpractice insurance is being offered, and prior to beginning any assignment the locum tenens company should provide proof of coverage.

Agreement dissolution terms. Be sure to include a clause in the contract agreement that allows an escape route just in case the assignment does not meet the agreed-upon terms.

Get it in writing. If changes to the agreement with the locum tenens company are needed, print the information clearly and initial and date the addition. Once all necessary changes have been made, present it to the locum tenens company for review. No assignment should begin before finishing the contract.

ACP's new Center for Practice Improvement and Innovation (CPII) combines the expertise of the Practice Management Center (PMC) and the Center for Practice Innovation (CPI) as well as other HIT specialists. For all practice management, quality improvement, and HIT resources, visit them online.