If you’re from the medical field, you must have heard of ‘locum tenens’ at least once in your life.
The importance of locum tenens is often overlooked, yet it is the solution to many medical staffing problems.
The locum tenens industry is a vital part of the healthcare system. It has grown steadily over the past five years and is now a billion-dollar industry in the US. This growth is because locum tenens doctors can be provided when the need arises.
So who are these locums? How can they be beneficial to your Hospital? Allow us to clear the air.
Locum tenens: Who are they?
Locum tenens, or “locum,” refers to a physician hired on a short-term basis to cover for a physician who cannot work. While some hospitals use locums to fill in when an existing staff physician is out, others use locums to cover for a physician on leave or who has left the Hospital altogether.
Hiring locums can be a great way to reduce costs in the short term, as locums are usually paid less than permanent medical staff. However, it is important to remember that, while hiring a locum is less expensive than hiring a full-time employee, locum tenens need to be used appropriately to get the best out of them.
How hiring locum tenens can help
There are several benefits to using locum tenens for staffing rather than hiring permanent staff.
First, healthcare facilities can save a lot of money when hiring locum tenens instead of full-time employees. This is because locum tenens are paid only for the days they are on-site at the Hospital, instead of permanent employees paid for their entire shift.
Another advantage is that locum tenens are much easier to fire if they are not performing well. It can take months and months with permanent employees to find a replacement for a poor-performing employee; with locum tenens, it is as easy as sending them home and hiring another replacement.
Now having understood who locums are, let’s understand how they can be beneficial for hospitals.
Hospitals can reach rural areas and serve more patients
Health experts and government bodies agree that the most vulnerable in society need greater access to specialist healthcare services.
How can this be achieved?
One solution is to use locum tenens, or locum doctors, to fill in for staff and ensure that these essential services are delivered to all who need them. It’s also a chance for hospitals to expand their services and ensure that nobody is left without access to remedies and treatments they would not otherwise receive.
Locum tenens allow work flexibility
For the past many years, hospitals have increasingly used Locum Tenens to fill staffing gaps and bring medical staff for short periods. This has allowed hospitals to bring in new programs and services without having to sign a multi-year contract.
Even when a hospital is willing to bring in new programs and services, they may not know how much of a patient load they will get. These are situations when hospitals could benefit from locum tenens. The programme can be scrapped if it is not a success.
Better workload management
Many hospitals, especially in the US, find it challenging to manage their patient caseload, especially when they are short-staffed.
For example, a hospital generally has four surgeons. If one of them has to leave the Hospital in between, it puts a load on other surgeons.
This is where a locum tenen steps in.
Using locum tenens as immediate substitutes helps surgeons focus on their work without worrying about the workload. The locum tenen can make way for a proper surgeon once the hospital management finds a suitable replacement.
How (or where) to find locum tenens?
There are several best locum agencies for doctors. They have an extensive database of locums you can browse and hire temporarily. Simply connect with any good agency and take in any number of locums for your hospital.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.