The changes being forced on the healthcare system due to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act are profound, to say the least. Among those changes is the reality that now a very large number of Americans will have access to healthcare services. These are patients who rarely used doctors’ offices and hospitals in the past. This new influx of patients is, understandably, causing fears of inadequate care due to staffing shortages. One solution is to employ locum tenens doctors and nurses until permanent staff positions can be filled.
Unfortunately, the idea of locum tenens staffing often carries with it negative connotations. What’s more, those negative connotations are unnecessary. They are fueled largely by myths that developed back in the late 1990s and have persisted ever since.
The top three myths of locum tenens staffing are:
Locums Are Less Skilled Than Staff Workers
Both healthcare facilities and staff professionals are known to view locums as less skilled and less capable of performing to standards. First of all, it is simply not true. Some estimates suggest as many as 35% of locum doctors and nurses are retirees who have already worked a full career spanning 30 years or more. That hardly qualifies as inadequate or lacking in skill.
Among the remainder of locums, some are new professionals just getting started while others are career locums or former staff practitioners looking for new permanent positions. However, even the new doctors and nurses have at least a year or more of clinical practice under the belts. They have the skills necessary to provide good patient care. It just may seem like they don’t because they are not used to a new work environment.
Locums Staffing Is Too Expensive
The hospital administrator trying to plug staffing holes may resist locum staffing because of a misplaced belief that it is too expensive. It’s actually not. Using locums is comparable in most cases, when you consider the entire compensation package involved with a staff worker. What’s more, inadequate staffing may force your facility to turn away some patients, thereby limiting revenue.
If it is a question of being able to provide top-notch care at full capacity or having to turn away patients for lack of staffing, hiring locum tenens staffing is better financially. Refusing to use locums could cost your facility in the long run. And yes, it is possible to save with locums in some cases.
Locums Get the Worst Schedules and Assignments
From the standpoint of the nurse or doctor, the most persistent myth is one of locums always getting the worst schedules and assignments. Actually, there was some truth to this idea when the whole locum industry got its start 20 years ago. However, it is no longer true for the most part.
Healthcare facilities and staffing agencies began to understand during the last decade that scheduling and assignments for locums needed to be reconsidered if they hoped to grow the industry. They have bent over backwards to ensure that locums are treated no differently than staff workers in this regard. There may be some assignments where your scheduling may be problematic, but most locums find this is the exception rather than the rule.
Locum tenens staffing will play an important role in handling the influx of new patients over the next several years. Moreover, with all the changes coming to the healthcare sector, these next few years could be a pivotal time for the locum sector. It is an opportunity for locums all over the country to prove they can be an asset to any healthcare provider.