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Locum tenens medical staffing has made serious gains in the last 30 years. There are now more locum doctors and nurses than at any other time in the past. Even more important is the fact that the vast majority of America’s healthcare facilities will utilize locum staffing at least once in any given year. So why does the myth that locum physicians are disinterested outsiders still persist?

Doctors understood the less-than-positive image of locums 30 and 40 years ago. The image was unwarranted, but it was still understood in light of the fact that locum work was not the norm. Things are different today. Not only is locum work part of the mainstream but growing numbers of doctors are also pursuing it as a career rather than a part-time endeavor. Many of those doctors are living proof that locum physicians are not disinterested outsiders who care more about a paycheck than patient care.

Motivations Behind Locum Work

It might be an interesting exercise among hospital administrators suspicious of locum physicians to sit down and actually ask those doctors why they chose the locum tenens route. According to Tiva Healthcare, a staffing agency specializing in locum tenens, a sizable number of doctors choose the locum model specifically because they are passionate about practicing medicine. Locum assignments allow doctors to do just that.

A doctor who chooses locum work based primarily on desire to practice medicine is the same doctor who is not interested in all the non-medical aspects of modern healthcare. He or she just wants to take care of patients. Working as a locum affords the opportunity to do so like nothing else.

Staffing Agencies Protect Themselves

Another thing to consider about the locum tenens model is that staffing agencies now offer malpractice insurance as a standard benefit to their locum doctors. As such, agencies have to be exceptionally careful about who they bring on. They need to make sure every doctor they recruit has been thoroughly and properly vetted because their businesses are on the line.

What does this say about the quality of locum doctors? It says that healthcare facilities and administrators can trust their locums. Doctors have already been through a recruiting and hiring process that is likely more stringent than that of the facility in need of their services.

New Insights and Perspectives

One last argument against the disinterested outsider myth is the reality that locums bring new insights and perspectives to every assignment they accept. For example, consider a doctor whose previous two assignments had him spending a total of 12 months working in separate rural settings. Over the course of those two assignments, the doctor gained a new perspective of how medicine is practiced outside of the big cities.

That same doctor brings that new perspective to a new assignment in a metropolitan area. It is an important perspective that could be helpful in a big city hospital so entrenched in certain ways of doing things that they are not able to see beyond procedure and policy. The locum doctor with a different perspective and new insights can shake things up – and possibly change them for the better.

It is simply not true that locum physicians are disinterested outsiders just looking to cash in on medicine. They are not lone rangers who have been forced into the locum environment because they cannot get along with others well enough to hold a full-time job. Locum doctors are, by and large, dedicated medical professionals who simply prefer to practice medicine in a different way. They are an asset to every facility they work at.

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