7 tips for surviving locum tenens paperwork

Illustration - locum with stack of paperwork

Experienced locum tenens physician Dr. Marye McCroskey offers some effective tips for tackling locum tenens paperwork.

This spring I found myself filling out another credentialing request for another locums company. And then another for the job. And then attaching more letters of recommendation. Does it ever end?

Not to scare anyone, but the real answer is no. But let me share with you how newcomers — and locum veterans! — can survive the locums tenens paperwork you’ll find in front of you.  

This isn’t my first locums rodeo

I’ve been doing locums off and on for the last seven years. And I love it. I wouldn’t practice any other way. This spring, I decided to try some different types of jobs, picking up shifts at regional urgent care centers and a short stint with the VA. This allowed me to spend more time at home and the flexibility I needed. In order to do this though, I found myself working with four different locums agencies. And each company, urgent care center, hospital, VA, and the federal government needed credentialing. Trying to keep all the requests straight was a task. So here are my shortcuts.

Tips for success

1. Maintain your CV in Google docs 

Years ago, I had put my CV in a Google doc. Since then, I have adjusted it some to provide the most pertinent information. More importantly, every time I got a new or renewed license, a new certificate, or a new assignment, for example, I updated my CV immediately. And I labeled it with the date last updated, which actually helped more than you can imagine. Among the perks, this allows for a quick response to job openings such that you don’t miss an opportunity.

2. Nurture your references

Every place you take an assignment, obtain references. Find like-minded physicians you worked well with. Try to get two names from each place you go. Remember, you are going to be asking them for references frequently, depending upon how long your assignments are. I’m currently on my fifth assignment for this year, so that’s a lot of forms. Having many choices prevents you from burning out your friends.

3. File your references docs

I have two. One is an ongoing, open list of all the physicians and coworkers I have ever asked to be a reference and all their information (cell number, office number, email, etc.). As soon as I identify a new one, I add them to the list. The second is a list of three colleagues I am ready to use for my next reference cycle. You will find over time that some people genuinely do not mind doing this for you and you can call on them repeatedly. Others are not good about getting paperwork done. Remember, references need to be done in a timely manner, so choose them carefully.

4. Keep a personal information file 

There are many documents that you frequently need to provide copies of, so keep them together in one place. Examples include: driver’s license, medical licenses, immunization records, COVID card, TB skin tests, specialty board certification, ACLS and BLS cards, DOT cert, DEA, and any state CSPs.

5. Keep a malpractice insurance file 

For each assignment or company you work for, they typically provide your malpractice insurance. Keep a copy of all Certificates of Insurance (COIs) with the dates they were enforced. This information is needed if you change or choose a different locums agency, work for the federal government, or get certain state licenses.

6. And a pay stubs file  

Most locums work is contract, so for each assignment you will get a 1099 at the end of the year to document your income. If you want to keep up with your income for quarterly taxes, keep a file and/or spreadsheet of your assignments, hours worked, and pay. This is helpful at the end of the year if you have worked in multiple states and/or U.S. territories.  

7. Organize your preferred cloud storage system efficiently

I actually have folders for every assignment I’ve worked. This includes paperwork completed for that assignment including “confirmation of assignment,” which contains pertinent addresses, phone numbers, and dates on one form. This does help alleviate clutter and keep things handy if you circle back to a location at a later date.

You will have paperwork to complete for each locums assignment, but it doesn’t have to be painful if you have all the information you need at your virtual fingertips. And the opportunities that locums provide are well worth the work!

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