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The Stigma of Locum Tenens Staffing & Why It’s All Nonsense

It’s becoming increasingly common for medical facilities to rely on locum tenens agencies in maintaining an effective workforce. Many sources report that upwards of 85% of hospitals are now partnering with an agency, so it’s clear that locum tenens can be a valuable asset in managing staffing shortages.


However, despite this increase in employment, there exists a certain degree of uncertainty about locum tenens staffing. Because locums are often used as a temporary fix to fill a hole in a medical facility’s staffing, many believe this makes locum physicians less qualified than other medical staff.


Despite this stigma, locum tenens continues to play a vital role in the medical industry.


Locum Tenens Staffing Stigma

It’s a common myth that locum clinicians can’t keep a full-time medical job due to reasons including:

  • Lack of experience
  • Personality issues
  • Below-average skillset

Some view locum tenens as contractors who simply fill in on days that “real” clinicians have off. Although this isn’t true, these misconceptions impact the perception of clinicians working locum tenens and can even affect work culture.


It can also affect decision-making in some medical facilities and discourage them from choosing to work with a locum agency. Ultimately, this choice may delay the resolution of a staffing problem and could lead to a decline in patient care.


Why the Locum Tenens Stigma Is Nonsense

Locum tenens clinicians, just like all providers in the medical field, must have the proper licensing and expertise to qualify for a position. Although a locum tenens physician who just finished their residency may not be as established as a doctor with 30 years of experience, they both must meet the same licensing requirements in order to practice medicine.


Researchers found no significant differences between locums and permanent doctors during a 30-day mortality research study. In fact, some hospitals even observe an increase in patient satisfaction when using locum tenens to fill voids in the schedule.


Despite any misguided perceptions, the skill level of locum clinicians is equal to or often greater than that of permanent doctors. Working locum tenens ensures they have the skills to adapt to new situations, and experiencing a diverse set of working environments with unique demands keeps their abilities sharp.


Overall, locum tenens clinicians are legitimate medical workers who have a lot to offer the industry.


What to Consider About Locum Tenens

Although the stigma surrounding locum tenens workers is largely false, it’s worth considering the pros and cons when choosing locum over other options.


Pros of Temporary Physician Staffing



Burnout was already a significant issue among clinicians before anyone could even fathom the idea of a global pandemic. And with burnout rates at an all-time high, many worry about patient safety due to the startling increase in medical errors


Locum tenens relieves this issue by offering temporary replacements for any situation you may experience. It also allows some flexibility when scheduling, allowing you to combat clinician burnout through effective planning, and ensuring your team has access to the time off they need to stay focused and engaged at work.



Although some medical facilities are hesitant to work with a locum tenens staffing agency because they want a permanent solution, a locum clinician can fill the gap until the permanent hire is in place. 


Instead of having to rework other schedules, or rush the recruiting and hiring process, a facility can bring on a locum tenens to fill the gap until a permanent solution is found. This allows you to recruit the best hire, not the quickest hire.


Cons of Temporary Physician Staffing


One of the challenges of working with locum tenens clinicians is that it requires an efficient onboarding process to ensure the provider is productive from the start of their assignment. In many cases, a clinician needs to be up and running as quickly as possible to effectively fulfill the duties of their assignment. However, developing a capable onboarding process applies to long-term clinicians, as well, and can help a business greatly reduce friction with new hires.



Credentialing, if not managed efficiently, can delay the arrival of a locum tenens clinician. This would be particularly true if the provider did not currently hold the appropriate state license. Partnering with an agency that offers assistance with licensing and credentialing can help mitigate these kinds of issues, and ensure your locums providers are ready to work as soon as possible.


Locum Tenens Moving Forward

With high rates of stress and staffing shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no better time to start the fight against burnout and eliminate the stigma against locum tenens.


Do your homework and make the effort to find a locum tenens agency that’s willing to adjust to your needs. Choose an agency that’s looking to form a long-term partnership with you, rather than a one-off agreement. 


In the end, what matters most is making sure your facility’s schedule is covered and patients are getting the best care possible.  Locum tenens clinicians can play a key role in helping you achieve those objectives.

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