onboarding a locum tenens provider

Top Tips for Onboarding a Locum Tenens Provider

Bringing on a locum tenens provider can help healthcare organizations maintain quality of care and keep revenue flowing—when done correctly. Based on experience working with hundreds of client facilities, the experts at AMN Healthcare offer the following tips for ensuring a successful locum tenens experience.

“Taking the necessary time to properly onboard a clinician ensures for a smooth transition and offers continuity of patient care,” said Jana Reed, divisional vice president of recruiting for AMN Healthcare. “The patient should not notice any difference between a permanent or locum physician.”

Prepare Before the Locum’s Arrival

Once the decision to hire a locum tenens physician or advanced practitioner has been made, it is time to prepare.

“It starts with proper communication,” Reed said. “Both the facility and the locum provider must understand the reason for the coverage need, and proper expectation should be set for the temporary physician as it relates to the organization’s practice model.”

“Ensuring the provider has clear expectations sets everybody up for success at both ends,” she added.

The need could be due to vacation coverage, sick leave coverage or filling in until a permanent hire can join the team. Expectations will differ depending on the specialty.

Credentialing takes place before the provider shows up ready to work. Locum tenens must meet the requirements set in place by the bylaws of the organization. Privileges will be completed and issued by the medical staff office.

Delineation of privileges are completed by each physician related to his or her skill set and experience. Bylaws may require that the physician has performed a certain number of procedures in the past 12 or 24 months and have competency in certain skill sets.

“As a process of our onboarding with each client, AMN ensures candidates meet the necessary requirements per job position,” she said.

“Credentialing before [arrival] is a piece of successful onboarding,” Reed said. “Facilities should understand prior to the start of an assignment the necessary requirements around billing for a locums physician. In most cases, the physician will need to complete additional payor applications.”

Providing the onboarding physician with first-day instructions is important to a successful assignment. Let the provider know where to park and enter the building and where to report. Notify security, so the locum provider can smoothly enter the building. Ensuring he or she has a good point of contact is an important piece of communication.

“That point person should be on site and know who to go to for solutions,” Reed said.

It is helpful for the facility to prepare a welcome packet for the locum tenens provider that he or she can use upon arrival. The kit should include key codes, all relevant logins and initial passwords, a map of the facility and campus, and a phone directory.

6 Tips to Deliver a Smooth Onboarding upon Arrival

  1. Provide the incoming locum tenens with an orientation, including policies and procedures— particularly safety measures.
  2. Provide a tour of the facility and show the locum tenens provider where to get a cup of coffee or lunch. Introduce the provider to colleagues.
  3. Show the locum provider how to document in the electronic medical record (EMR) system. If possible for long-term assignments, have an IT professional or EMR champion sit with the locum professional the first day to answer questions.
  4. If possible, allow a day of overlap, so the outgoing provider can sign out patients to the locum tenens and answer any questions. If not possible, arrange a telephone call to exchange information. “If we can do a handoff, that’s fantastic, but that does not always happen,” Reed said. “We encourage clients to do at least a phone interview with the covering physician.”
  1. Treat the locum as part of the team. Especially on a long-term assignment, take the time to build rapport and make the provider feel like part of the existing staff, Reed advised.
  2. Appoint a contact person to answer questions and serve as a “welcome buddy.” This could be a fellow physician or advanced practitioner in the group, the medical director, a staff recruiter, or another liaison in a hospital or practice.


In order to ensure the optimal benefit from a locum tenens experience, it is critical to communicate thoroughly and often on the front end, Reed concluded. “Communication is key to ensure a successful engagement for all parties involved.”

Do you have a clinical staffing need? Call AMN Healthcare today, or submit your locum tenens staffing request, to ensure continuity and quality of care.