Living Locums Series Part 3: How to prepare for your first day
It’s not surprising that more and more physicians are taking advantage of locum tenens opportunities. These positions can offer everything from flexible scheduling to a chance to live in a new location. While the change provided by these assignments can be exciting, getting started includes a range of details. Besides making travel arrangements and packing it is important to communicate with your recruiter and in some cases, to prepare for any specialized training that may be required.
This installment of Living Locums is the third in the series. It covers the nitty-gritty details of preparing for an assignment. You can read about required paperwork, licensing and credentialing in part two.
Ideally, preparation for your first day on a locum tenens assignment should begin well in advance so you can get all the details right and make a great first impression. Your recruiter should be able to inform you on what time to arrive your first day on assignment, who to ask for when you get there, where to park, and what to wear. Your recruiter may have copies of policies and procedures for your assigned facility, and these can be helpful too, so ask about them.
Being prepared and punctual your first day on a locum tenens assignment gets everyone off to the best start and reflects well on you, and this can affect the type of assignments you are offered in the future. Here’s how to prepare.
Getting Travel Arrangements Squared Away
Your locum tenens agency will arrange and pay for your travel in many cases. It’s fine to ask plenty of questions about your lodging situation. Some facilities have housing, while in other situations you may live in a hotel. Ask your recruiter how many days before your assignment starts you need to be there, and make any preferences with regard to lodging clear. How early you need to arrive before starting work will depend on several factors, like the distance you have to travel to get there, whether you will attend on-site training, and whether you need to acclimate to the surroundings due to culture changes, extreme weather, or even extreme altitude.
Inquire about Training Ahead of Time
The best time to inquire about any on-site training is before you accept a locum tenens job, but if you haven’t asked, be sure to do so early enough so you can plan correctly. To feel most comfortable in your assignment, you should discuss with your recruiter what kinds of expectations the facility will impose, what previous locums assignments there were like for others, and what your responsibilities are likely to be.
Whether or not you will train on-site, ask your recruiter these key questions:
• Will I be required to perform specific procedures?
• How heavy is the facility’s patient load?
• What types of procedures does the facility usually perform?
• What have previous locums physicians said about the facility?
What to Pack
Consider the location, the season, and the climate of your assignment location to know which clothing to pack (or buy). In addition, many locums providers pack workout clothing (including swimwear) so they can take advantage of downtime to get some physical activity. Ensure your phone, tablet, or laptop has the preferred medical references you use installed, and take books you can read for pleasure too. If you’re an avid reader and don’t have a Kindle or other e-reader, consider investing in one rather than lugging physical books around.
Regular toiletries, glasses, contact lenses (and solutions), and prescription drugs are essential, and many locum tenens physicians elect to put together a set of device chargers in a separate bag so they can keep their phone, laptop, etc. charged at all times. If you have preferred coffee or tea bags and aren’t sure if they’re available at your assignment location, take some with you.
Staying in Communication with Your Recruiter
The success of your locum tenens assignments depends heavily on how well you and your recruiter are able to communicate. Your recruiter may check in with you intermittently on the job, and it’s important to answer these calls if at all possible. It’s your opportunity to ask questions, bring up any problems, and let your recruiter know how well the assignment is working out for you. Remember that you can contact your recruiter too. In fact, he or she should make it clear how to get in touch. This is particularly important if your situation changes or if something the people at the facility told you doesn’t match up with what the recruiter told you.
As with any other job assignment, preparation is the key to a successful locum tenens placement. Working with an outstanding locum tenens recruiter is also essential, as is regular communication. We invite you to apply with All Medical Locum Tenens and discover for yourself how professionally and personally rewarding locum tenens assignments can be.