Interview Tips for Residents Exploring Locum Tenens

As you move toward the next phase of your medical journey, you may be concerned about securing a job after residency. Your training has taken many years and you have worked hard to get to the place you are in today. So, we asked two of our top recruiters, Timothy Callahan and Tatiana Aboujaoude, to share some of their best tips for future interviewees. Since they have spent an extensive amount of time in the industry, they can speak to client expectations.

As you begin interviewing, keep in mind the process varies slightly from specialty to specialty and from permanent positions to locum tenens. Read on to discover some best practices for emerging doctors interviewing for locum tenens assignments.

What should I know about locum tenens as I start my job search?

Talk to someone about the reality of locum tenens. There are a lot of misconceptions and it’s important to look at the flexibility and see if locum tenens fits with your goals—both professional and personal. Tim Callahan suggests asking questions and familiarizing yourself with the locum lifestyle.

“I think there’s a big misconception that locum tenens is all about maintaining this hectic travel schedule,” he says. “You may think that you’ll be in California one month and Connecticut another month, and you’re constantly moving around. And if you want to, you can do that. However, I find that most locum providers live at home and commute to a few different facilities within an hour radius. It’s far more adjustable than most residents think.”

Think about your ideal location and practice environment; if you don’t have a solid answer, locums may be the perfect fit. “As a recruiter, it’s important for us to step back and ask what you’re looking for,” Tim continues. “We really take the time to ask questions and match the right opportunities to you. Go somewhere for a few months and try it out. If you don’t like the patient population or the commuter traffic, you can move on and find something that maybe you do like more. Locum to perm has become a model that a much larger percentage of the market is more comfortable doing. Too many people get into a situation they don’t like right out of residency and they’re stuck in a two-year contract. Starting with locums allows you to avoid that.”

When should I start looking and how long can the interview process take?

It’s hard to give one answer because it really varies based on specialty and state. “The process can take anywhere from a few months to a few days,” explains Tim. “I really suggest you know where you’re headed in your fourth year of residency so that you can set up licenses and DEAs ahead of time. Then, you aren’t restricted from working in your ideal location.”

There are a lot of benefits to having a recruiter help you through this process. “We know the market and we have licensing and credentialing resources, so we can really be your advocate,” adds Tim. “The amount of time we can save residents is enormous. It’s everything. The sooner you can build a relationship with a recruiter, talk about your preferences, and line up job opportunities that fit, the better. Then, we can have everything set for you once you’re ready to seriously look at your options.”

What are some things that will make me stand out as a candidate?

Your qualifications as a resident are all very similar. “Availability makes you stand out, as well as your responsiveness,” says Tatiana Aboujaoude. “Responsiveness is key so that we can smoothly get through licensing and credentialing to get you to work. We look at a lot of factors, like how soon you can start, if you’re comfortable with various procedures, and if you’re local to the opportunity.”

Tim expands a little bit. “You see so many different personalities, but professionalism goes a long way,” he says. “Be transparent if there’s a background issue. It’s rare, but if you had any issues in residency, be upfront about that. Trust will really make or break a good relationship with both your recruiter and the hospitals.” Ultimately, a recruiter can help smooth any conversations about your background. They are a helpful mediator, but they need to be aware of anything that may arise.

What should my CV look like?

Are you wondering how much of your background is worth listing? Putting together a CV can be overwhelming, and that’s where enlisting the help of a recruiter is extremely beneficial. Focus on creating a clean CV, keeping in mind that time gaps could appear incomplete. Account for each part of your background, because having an established timeline really helps. “The more information the better, but not in paragraph form,” says Tatiana. “Definitely include everything that you’ve done in terms of training and fellowships.”

Tim is in favor of highlighting subspecialties. “In psychiatry, the assignment might be a mixture of seeing adults and children, but if all you’ve listed is psychiatry with the name of the hospital, you may not seem qualified,” he says. “Maybe you have a subspecialty in child/adolescent or you have your Suboxone certification. You do want to highlight that because it’s relevant experience. We’ve lost doctors because clients didn’t realize that they had a subspecialty or qualification.”

What advice would you give to a resident exploring locum options?

Sometimes, residents are so driven academically they aren’t educated about licensing and DEA information. Find a resource to guide you. It doesn’t have to be a recruiter, but it’s important to identify a mentor outside of the academic world to tackle legal ramifications that you may not have encountered during your skills training. You must protect yourself and understand the liability you are under. So, start doing the right research before you leave residency.

“Know your contracts inside and out, and, know your rights,” says Tatiana. “A lot of residents think whatever the contract says goes, but know that you can (and probably should) negotiate. Involving a lawyer really helps ensure that the terms laid out are fair and agreeable. If it’s a two-year contract, can you work somewhere else during your contract? Is there a mileage restriction? You don’t know what’s in there if you don’t take the time to dive in and review before you sign. Don’t be afraid to question something and advocate for yourself.”

Locum tenens is really all about exploring a variety of opportunities and practice environments to find your perfect fit. Make sure you give yourself every chance to find the best option for your lifestyle.

Begin chasing your passion and achieving your career goals by talking with an experienced Medicus Healthcare Solutions recruiter today.

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