It’s no secret that the U.S. faces a shortage of some 90,000 physicians with about half of that shortage in urgent care. It only stands to reason that recruiting and staffing physicians for urgent care centers is difficult, at best, and it’s not going to get any easier. Urgent care is one of the fastest-growing segments of the American health care system. It has mushroomed into an estimated $14.5 billion business as hospitals, insurance companies and investors try to profit from the shifting landscape in health care.
Even with the best laid plans, it is inevitable that if you are operating an urgent care center or multiple centers, you will have to turn to locum tenens firms to keep your center adequately staffed.
Getting the Right Staff in Place
To find the right fit for your organization, here are some tips on how to go about securing the right candidates from your locum tenens agency of choice:
- Don’t take the first candidate an agency throws at you. Agencies are used to lengthy hospital credentialing processes and having candidates rejected by hospitals. They often view urgent care center staffing as an easy way to get a Doctor working quickly regardless of their suitability. Stick to your criteria, no matter what.
- Be sure to conduct a telephone interview before the physician reports to work. Before his or her first day, you want to be sure their practice style fits with your patient volume and staffing levels, how your center handles specialist referrals, ordering of lab tests and x-rays and chart documentation procedures.
- Require the locum tenens physician to orient to the practice for a few hours before his or her first shift. An orientation process will help familiarize the physician with your facility and will ensure they understand the important policies and procedures. This will also help ensure seamless integration between the physician and your team.
- Give priority consideration to locum tenens physicians who meet your criteria and live within 100 miles or so of the center’s location. Paying for air fare, auto rental and lodging makes it cost prohibitive, particularly if the coverage is only for a shift or two a week, which is typically the need for most urgent care centers. Make sure you start by looking at the physicians who are physically close to your area. You may find a great one without having to spend extra.
- Develop a pool of at least 3-5 per diem physicians in your area. They should be either agency physicians, or physicians contracted directly with you whom you can call when shifts open up. You should require the agency to help facilitate getting their locum tenens contract physicians on the plans so you can bill for their services, the same as they do to get a locum hospital privileges. It should be a part of their service and included the locum tenens fees you are paying.
With the right approach, you should be able to staff your urgent care center with the best and brightest available options and physician locum tenens.