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The NPDB’s Role in Locum Tenens Credentialing Requirements

The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a database operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a repository of reports about medical malpractice payments, along with certain adverse actions related to healthcare practitioners, providers, and suppliers.


The NPDB  is used to protect patients by helping ensure only qualified professionals are able to practice medicine. In order for locum tenens clinicians to work in any given healthcare facility, the facility must confirm that the clinician has no derogatory information in the NPDB. The process of checking the NPDB can be cumbersome and time-consuming, but it’s absolutely critical for protecting the safety of patients. 


Healthcare facilities rely on the NPDB as an essential tool in their credentialing process, so it’s important as a locum tenens clinician to understand how this database works and what’s required for clearance. By understanding these requirements, locum tenens clinicians can ensure a smooth credentialing process and minimize any delays in getting started at their new job.


Locum Tenens Credentialing Requirements & the NPDB

Under federal law,  hospitals are required to seek information from the NPDB; however, there is no set criteria on how the information should be applied to credentialing. 


Facilities and institutions make inquiries to the NPDB about how the information should be used throughout credentialing activities, however, sometimes facilities don’t want to wait for their individual report. As a result, 3-7% of them make a decision before receiving a report back.

Credentialing for Locum Tenens

One of the most commonly known purposes for credentialing locum tenens is to ensure clinicians are qualified to practice medicine in a specific state or region. The process can take a few months to complete, but most locum tenens agencies will assist you with the process. Once your credentialing is complete, it will be valid for 2 years.


While that is certainly one of the main purposes, there are actually a few other reasons why credentialing is so important. 


Another reason is to validate the doctor’s professional identity. In order to work as a locum tenens clinician, you need to prove that you are who you say you are. This is done by providing your medical license and other relevant documentation to the agency. 


Additionally, credentialing is used to protect both the doctor and the patients. By having all of the relevant information on file, the agency can quickly identify any problems or issues that may arise. This helps to ensure that both the doctor and the patients are safe and protected. 


So, while credentialing is certainly important for ensuring that doctors are qualified to work in a certain state, there are also a few other reasons why it’s so important. Credentialing provides a way for agencies to verify the doctor’s identity and qualifications, which helps to protect everyone involved.


Why Choose Locum Tenens? 

There are multiple reasons why clinicians choose to be a locum tenens provider. And this decision can come at any point in your career, whether you’re just finishing medical school or exploring options as you transition towards retirement.


Either way, by choosing to work as a locum tenens clinician,  you will enjoy many perks that come with this option.

Locum tenens benefits includes:

  • Work-life balance
  • Avoiding clinician burnout
  • Free travel


Work-Life Balance

As a locum clinician, you’ll enjoy the benefit of choosing the type of work you want to do. Assignment schedules and practice settings can vary, allowing you to choose the one you would benefit from the most.


For example, one assignment may have you work for 7 days straight, followed by 7 days off. Another may have a more traditional schedule structure. Some prefer the latter, while others enjoy having a full week at a time to relax.


Once your assignment is complete, you also have the freedom and flexibility to enjoy time off before starting a new assignment.


Avoiding Clinician Burnout

Clinician burnout has been a growing problem throughout the country, especially with the added stress and pressure that arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Locum tenens work is a great way to break up your schedule and ensure you don’t get too bogged down. It’s also a great way to help the permanent staff where you’re working get a much-needed break.


Last year, doctors cited bureaucratic tasks (charting, paperwork) and spending too many hours at work as two of the leading contributors to burnout. As this issue continues to grow, the need for locum tenens does, as well. 


Paid Travel

If you enjoy exploring different parts of the country, then you’ll especially love doing it with all expenses paid.


Not only will you continue to enhance your skills on-the-job, you’ll enjoy numerous opportunities for new experiences outside of work. With new surroundings and people to meet, you will likely always look forward to where your next assignment will take you.


One complaint that some locum tenens have about the amount of travel has to do with licensing. (The IMLC has removed some of that stigma). You’ll need to be licensed for practicing medicine in any state in which you accept an assignment. Luckily, your  locum tenens staffing agency can assist you with this.


Closing Thoughts

The NPDB is one of the most trusted sources for practitioners undergoing the credentialing process. By applying the information given through certain credentialing activities, facilities and clinicians can work together to help protect the public and improve the quality of patient care given.


If you have any questions about the locum tenens credentialing process, feel free to reach out to our expert credentialing team at D&Y. We have a team of dedicated and experienced professionals waiting to help you.


Note: This blog was originally published on 6/30/2021 and updated on 10/31/2022.

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