Do anything for a long enough time and you theoretically become an expert, right? So how long does it take to become a locum tenens expert? That depends on how quickly you adapt to the locum tenens lifestyle. Some physicians adapt like a fish in water while others struggle for months, or even years. The one thing they all have in common is the fact that locum tenens work gives them more freedom to choose when, where, and how they work.
Becoming an expert at locum tenens is all about understanding how the system works and using it to your advantage. You might consider yourself an expert based on the following five signs:
1. You Know How to Find the Best Jobs
There are literally dozens of staffing agencies all over the country with thousands of jobs available at any given time. Like most locum doctors though, you are not interested in just settling. You want the best jobs that meet your schedule and work preferences. Better yet, you know how to find them.
You may work with more than one staffing agency. You probably know enough to have feelers out months in advance. And of course, you take every opportunity to network so that you can keep your ear to the ground, so to speak.
2. Your Recruiters Love Working with You
Staffing agency recruiters are a lot like dispatchers in the trucking industry. Their job is to match available talent with open contracts. And like trucking industry dispatchers, recruiters love working with doctors who are reliable, easy to get along with, and willing to communicate regularly. If your recruiter loves working with you for these very reasons, you have probably learned a thing or two about recruiter-doctor relationships.
3. You Know How to Negotiate Contracts
A brand-new locum may not necessarily be all that good at negotiating contracts. That is not a problem for you, though. You know exactly what you want and how to ensure you get it. You know how to bargain with employers to come up with a contract that you can both be happy with.
This is not to say that every contract is perfect. Rather, it’s just to say that you know how to negotiate with recruiters and employers to get the best possible deal on every assignment.
4. You’ve Made Work Part of Your Travel Schedule
Among the many reasons that doctors choose to do locum work is the desire to travel. When a doctor first starts out though, travel is secondary. Visiting particular destinations has to be worked into one’s work schedule because, of course, work comes first.
Seasoned locums turn the work-travel paradigm on its head. They figure out how to set a travel schedule first, then find ways to plug work into it. Travel becomes the primary motivator while work becomes a means of supporting that travel. It is a different way of thinking.
5. You Know the Best Times to Travel
Whether you choose to drive or fly to your next destination, you know there are good and bad times to travel. You might consider yourself an expert local if you’re intimately familiar with those times. You know how to beat the crowds at the airport or avoid heavy traffic. You know how to streamline everything from getting through airport security to paying road tolls. You are a true road warrior.
So, where do you stand? Have you been doing locum tenens work long enough to be considered an expert? If so, you are probably crushing it. That’s a good place to be as a locum tenens doctor.