The clear majority of healthcare facilities in this country utilize locum staffing at least once per year. A lot of them utilize a rotating team of locums coming in and out to fill staffing holes. As popular as locum tenens medicine is these days, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find facilities that do not use locums. Still, not every experience is a good one.

Plenty of healthcare facilities run into trouble with their locum providers. That trouble could be anything from an agency supplying unqualified doctors to disagreements over pay rates and schedules. It is enough to make administrative staff crazy at times. The good news is that things do not have to be this way. It is very possible for healthcare facilities to establish good relationships with their locum providers, relationships that result in long-term satisfaction for both.

Be Specific about Terms

Much of the friction between facilities and locum providers boils down to the terms of their relationships. Terms are everything. So the starting point for establishing and maintaining solid relationships is to be clear about the terms. Administrators need to know exactly what they expect from their providers, and they need to convey those expectations to the providers they work with.

Legal experts would always advise documenting terms by writing them down. When it’s time to write a contract, all the terms the two parties agree to should be included. Why? Because the written contract is the final arbiter when parties disagree. If a set of terms is not in the contract, it is meaningless.

Knowing Providers Well

Another aspect in building solid relationships is getting to know locum tenens providers. Just like healthcare facilities expect doctors and nurses to do some research about them before applying for a job, the administrator should be researching locum tenens providers before the initial inquiry is made. A little research goes a long way.

Learning should not stop once a relationship has been established. Administrators should continually make every effort to get to know their providers better, with the understanding that evolution occurs. Locum tenens providers change over time as they grow, take on new clients, bring on more doctors, etc.

Treat Doctors with Respect

A locum tenens provider is always in the unenviable position of having to keep both doctors and facilities happy. They are playing both sides of the game, so to speak. Unfortunately, administrators often take advantage of this position by expecting providers to show loyalty to them first. That can make them feel as though they can mistreat doctors and get away with it.

Any administrator who wants to establish a good relationship with a locum provider needs to treat that provider’s doctors with respect. If administration treats doctors poorly, those same doctors will go back to their staffing agencies to tell them they will never work for the facility again. A constant stream of doctors taking this position leads the provider scrambling to meet contract terms. We all know where that leads.

Working as a Team

At the end of the day, establishing solid relationships with locum providers is all about working as a team. The team mindset encourages both parties to do what they can to work toward achieving success. It is a mindset that also solves problems by working together rather than accusing one another.

Solid relationships are more important than ever as locum tenens staffing continues to grow. Facilities capable of establishing great relationships with their providers discover that locum staffing delivers on its promises. Those that do not continue to struggle with staffing day after day.