Patience & Planting Seeds for Success in Locum Tenens

plant growing over coins, isolated on whiteAny successful locum tenens provider will likely tell you that their success did not come over night. There are surgeons who have the ability to work when and where they would like, and often times be so busy that they have to decline a lot of opportunities. But just like building a business or a stock portfolio, building a solid foundation for success is something that takes a little bit of time and patience.

Setting Proper Expectations

Many providers take an interest to doing Locum Tenens work but give up if they don’t see immediate success and job confirmations. It is important for providers to know that it is not uncommon for excellent surgeons to be presented to 5-10 job opportunities before receiving their first confirmation. This can be frustrating for a provider if proper expectations have not been set to let them know this is nothing out of the ordinary. Occasionally a provider will receive a confirmation after 1 or 2 presentations but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Placing a provider into the right job requires a lot of things to align on both sides. Stay in the game long enough to see your first results, remain in the game until you have built some great relationships with facilities that you work at. Most jobs that open up can receive 5-10 candidates from one locums company and may be working with a few others. Don’t let that scare you, partner with a credible recruiter/company and make sure that you are being presented to multiple opportunities.

Planting Seeds for Success

I often use this analogy when working with my providers – “Think of every time you are presented to a facility as planting a locums seed. Most of these seeds will not grow into anything, some of them will grow into something further down the road, and a few of those seeds will grow into big money trees that will pay you over and over again”. Again, make sure you are planting lots of seeds because these seeds will be what build your locums portfolio.

Patience that Pays Off

In 2014, I worked with two surgeons who both had a wide open schedule for locum tenens work. Both providers were friendly, had a clean record and were motivated to work. In both cases it took me some time to get their locums business ramped up, and although there were some times of frustration and doubt, their patience really paid off and now they have each worked at multiple facilities that are eager to have them back.

While you are waiting for locums opportunities to come, work with your consultant to improve the ‘tools’ that you have available and maximize your success at the presentation level.

  • Make sure that you have completed the Comphealth application. This will show our clients that you are committed to doing locums and we are in the process of vetting you. The application will also save you time with paperwork in the long run because we can use some of the information to pre-fill hospital privilege applications.
  • Work with your consultant to get your internal credentialing out of the way. When a client reviews CV’s from multiple candidates, the ones who have been credentialed with CompHealth are usually given greater consideration.
  • Get letters of recommendation from some of your colleagues. These pay dividends over and over, and most of your competition is not taking the time to do this. Most providers are afraid to ask a colleague to spend 20-40 minutes to write up a letter of recommend, but in reality even the busiest people are happy and willing to help you out with this. Ask me for some sample letters of recommend if you need some ideas.
  • Work on additional licenses. Successful locums providers often have multiple state licenses to increase the footprint of where they can be presented to. Talk to your consultant about where they are seeing the most opportunities and get started on licenses.


Once you receive your first confirmation, get ready for things to really start picking up. Make sure that you do a great job and leave a lasting impression on the facility that you work at and they will often want to have you back over and over. Get some positive feedback from that first assignment and that will carry momentum into your next.  Just like starting a new stock portfolio or gym routine, the hardest part is usually in the beginning with the rewards to be reaped further down the road.

Simon Parsons – General & Trauma Surgery


You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>