Credentialing for Locum Tenens Assignments: What should you expect? BY: B. Franklin Phillips

Working as a locum tenens physician or advanced practice professional has many benefits. It gives you as a provider complete control over when you work. Locum tenens also allows you to pick up several shifts per month to make some additional income, scheduling around a permanent job.

One aspect of today’s locum tenens, however, is the time it takes to obtain hospital privileges at a health care facility. Several years ago, the locum agency usually had a direct relationship with the facility where the contracted provider was to work. Not so much in today’s locum tenens world. In some specialties healthcare systems are contracting for services within Emergency Medicine, Hospitalist, Anesthesia, Radiology and more. Contract management companies are becoming the “client” of the locum tenens agency rather than the healthcare facility. In addition, many large health systems are contracting with Managed Service Providers (MSP) to handle all their staffing. In some cases, the Contract Management Companies have also signed on with MSP’s. When this occurs, the locum tenens agency must navigate multiple levels and relationships to facilitate the credentialing process.  With this added complexity, an activity that previous required weeks may now take several months.

Another consideration is that each hospital has a similar, but unique process for vetting credentials and issuing privileges. This process is typically written into the hospital bylaws and is therefore non-negotiable. Over recent years, these procedures have intensified and require greater and more detailed information from you as a provider to grant privileges.

It is important for the you to ask the recruiter the right questions to understand the relationships involved and to know what you are up against in each new assignment. The locums company should be familiar with the process in each facility for which they work. You should expect to have a clear understanding of the process to obtain hospital privileges including the length of time that it may take to accomplish.

Unfortunately for all parties, the industry has evolved into a complicated communication chain. Understanding these dynamics and knowing a realistic time to be granted hospital privileges will help to eliminate frustration and assist you in maximizing your work schedule.