The “Beyond the Practice” Series has been created to give you an insight and advantage into the professional side of the anesthesia job through interviews conducted with leaders in the industry. In this interview, Anesthesia Staffing Consultant for D&Y Staffing, Lawanda Sales, discusses housing, malpractice issues and what makes a great locum tenens candidate.
BagMask: I want to start with a couple questions people often have when thinking about working as an anesthesia locum tenen. First, for a person taking an assignment in a different geographical location, how is housing and travel handled?
Lawanda: We have a department that schedules the traveling and housing for providers. The process is really simple. We contact the provider, they give us the details of the type of place they would like to stay in and then we take care of everything else on our end. In general, we take care of the cost for travel and housing up front so our providers don’t have to worry about a thing.
BagMask: What happens if they show up at the house or hotel and it just doesn’t really suit their needs?
Lawanda: It does not happen often, but if it does, the provider should reach out to us and tell us what is going on. We have a 24-hour emergency hotline so we are always available. We will give them some options and try to resolve it as quickly as possible.
BagMask: Another issue that sometimes arises is a provider has a red flag, such as a malpractice claim. Is there any way they can still work with a locums agency like D&Y?
Lanwanda: That is handled on a case by case basis by our team that reviews the circumstances. We try not to hold that against the provider, especially if it was a long time ago. So we do our due diligence before presenting them to a client facility.
BagMask: I assume that as long as they are honest and upfront with all the information it can help make the decision easier.
Lawanda: Absolutely. That is really important because, as a recruiter, the best way for me to represent a provider is to know all those details up front. Everything eventually comes up when we do background checks, and if a provider didn’t disclose something in the beginning it makes it harder for us to clear them. It also raises a question about the integrity of the anesthesia provider and whether or not they might be the right fit for us.
BagMask: You mention integrity. For providers that have not worked locums before, how can they determine they are signing up with a locums agency that is reputable?
Lawanda: They should start by looking at a company that is well-established within the industry. How long have they been around? How many facility clients do they work with? How many providers are they representing? See if you can talk to providers that have worked with the group in the past to get their take of what it is like to work for them.
Next, evaluate how they communicate with you. They should be giving you all the details about the assignment: what type of model they use, is it an independent practice versus a care team, what EMR do they use, type of facility, case mix, the length of the contract. They should be transparent about everything when discussing the assignment and your contract.
You do not want to be blindsided by something that should have been discussed. Then, if something does arise that is an issue, they are quick to resolve it. Open communication is the foundation of good a locums agency.
BagMask: What makes a good locums candidate?
Lawanda: Being flexible is an important part of being a good locums provider. What I mean by that is, do they follow the 80/20 rule? If 80% of things are great, then you can deal with the 20% that might not be perfect.
For example, I find an assignment that is great pay, the perfect location, awesome hours and incredible housing, but you have to take some call. Eighty percent of this job is great, but the “Call” is that 20% you are not thrilled with. If you can deal with 20%, that can make a difference if I put you on this great assignment. It also provides more opportunities for me to find an assignment for the provider if they are flexible.
How a locums provider communicates is important as well. It plays a role in the OR, but it’s also important to know how they communicate with their recruiter. One of the things that I pride myself on is building relationships, and in order for us to have a strong relationship, we need open communication. The provider has to be able to express their needs and wants and if something is not going the right way, speak up so it can be fixed.
At the end of the day, we don’t just place people on assignments, we want to make sure that we find the right fit for them. And if we have the right fit, we can set the provider up to be happy and successful. All that happens because of effective open communication.
BagMask: Last question. What is your hope for the anesthesia job seeker out there?
Lawanda: My hope would be that they know what they want in a locums assignment. When you have a clear picture in your head of the things you want, it’s easier to find a place to work that you will be happy in.
Sometimes a provider will say “Just find me a place that is going to pay me the most money”. A couple weeks later, they are miserable and asking for a new assignment because they didn’t think through all the different aspects of the type of assignment they wanted to work. Express everything you want in your perfect assignment, and then the recruiter can find something close to that. Just remember that 80/20 rule and you can have a successful anesthesia career in locum tenens.