A 3-stage approach to onboarding locum tenens providers

August 29th, 2018 7 Min read A 3-stage approach to onboarding locum tenens providers Blog

When you bring on a locum tenens provider, you often wish they could have started yesterday. So it’s important they hit the ground running. Still, you need an onboarding process that helps the provider know what kind of culture they’re stepping into and how to be effective members of your team.

Judy Dunlap, sourcing strategist for Banner Health, has been in healthcare for 26 years and has spent the last 12 years sourcing locum tenens providers for the entire Banner Health system. She knows onboarding is key to keeping a locums assignment running smoothly.

“We want providers who not only look great on paper, but get along great with our staff and treat our patients in the warm, friendly manner they’re accustomed to,” Judy explains. “Good onboarding helps the locums feel comfortable and a part of the family, which encourages them to perform at their peak.”

We asked Judy and two other expert locums recruiters, Cheryl Hetrick, director of physician and provider recruitment at UnityPoint Clinic, and Dolly Willems, physician recruiter with Prevea Health, to share their onboarding processes. Their expert advice can be grouped into the following three-stage approach.

3-Stage approach to successful locums onboarding

Prior to start dateDay one Ongoing
Provide forms and training onlineProvide a welcoming environmentBring back trained favorites
Go “Lean”Show them the ropes 
Let CompHealth help with credentialing and licensingEnsure access 

Prior to start date

Provide forms and training online

A locum tenens assignment should start long before they ever step foot in a facility. For example, Banner Health uses an onboarding portal that new hires access online before their start date. This allows locums to start learning about the company on their own time and even get necessary forms out of the way.

“We provide facility orientation, compliance, and learning courses relevant to any new position online, so the locums can take care of those in the comfort of their home before they start work,” states Judy.

RELATED: Locum Tenens Physician Orientation Guide and Checklist (PDF Download)

Go “Lean”

Judy also incorporates Lean methodology principles into her onboarding process. She cuts down on wasted time and effort by “having practice profiles on file, so my CompHealth recruiter knows exactly what each provider needs to be credentialed in and procedures they might have to handle in the placement.”

Let CompHealth help with credentialing and licensing

Provider credentialing and licensing can be complex, so CompHealth partners with hospital and clinic recruiters to work through the credentialing and medical staff privileging process ahead of time. That way, “Any new provider is qualified, capable, and ready to serve our patients and our community,” explains Cheryl.

Dolly has a similar perspective, “Our credentialing process can be a little daunting from the provider end. One of the nice benefits of working with CompHealth is that they have a credentialing person that works very closely with our credentialing office. That bridges the gap, so I can step back and monitor the process versus having to be the one who is reading every email and getting every signature.”

Day one

Provide a welcoming environment

“A good experience begins with nurturing an open and receptive environment among the permanent staff,” Cheryl points out. “They know the locums are here to help. They’re team players and they understand that we have a culture where our locums can come in and work alongside their colleagues in a welcoming environment.”

Show them the ropes

Cheryl slightly modifies first-day orientation for her locums. “We give them an abridged version of hospital orientation and make sure they understand our electronic medical records (EMR) system, then we familiarize them with the hospital setting.”

Ensure access

Cheryl also knows the importance of making sure providers have access to the facility and necessary systems from the beginning. “We try to ensure that they have access day one,” she explains. Judy and Dolly agree: nothing is more frustrating than to have locums waiting to get access to necessities such as buildings, computer systems, medical supplies, and equipment before they can get to work.


Bring back trained favorites

Judy and Cheryl both bring back placements who have proven to be a good fit.

“Before I hire a locum, I talk to the facility and ask if they want someone to come back again. I often hear, ‘he worked out great,’ or ‘I’d have her back in a heartbeat.’ This cuts down on onboarding time and the locums have already established good working relations with the rest of our staff,” says Judy.

Cheryl describes similar experiences. “We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve had good solid candidates come through CompHealth, which allows us to keep using those same providers on a regular basis. When we have an opening, for example, we ask if ‘Dr. Smith’ from six months ago is still available and, if so, we invite the same locums back again and again.”

In summary

Improve your locums onboarding by streamlining your efforts in three stages:

  1. Let the locums complete as much of the onboarding process as possible online — prior to the start date.
  2. Make sure they get off to a good start with a welcoming environment, appropriate orientation, and access to the facility and needed systems on day one.
  3. Bring back trained favorites again and again, cutting down on the time and effort spent on onboarding new providers.


Sharon Benedict

Sharon Benedict

Sharon Benedict is a freelance copywriter and author of seven books who began her career as a technical writer for 3M Health Information Systems. She has six years' ad agency experience and is trained in the StoryBrand framework, which she uses to find and tell compelling stories.

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