Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Hospital Medicine is ‘Both a Science and an Art’

Dr. Farnel Backer, one of Consilium’s partnering hospitalists, has taken on diverse medical roles and gained experience in numerous practice settings throughout his career. He credits his experience in multiple medical settings—including five years in pharmacy—with much of his success as a physician.

Why did you become a physician?

I was actually a pharmacist first, but I decided that my real calling was to be at the forefront of healthcare decision-making for patients.

What made you decide to become a hospitalist?

I have worked in a number of different settings, and when I eventually made my way to hospitalist work it just felt like the right fit.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I like the pace, the amount of input I have in making patient health decisions, and the results I get to see after working with patients for a short amount of time as compared to outpatient settings. I get to watch patients improve and then become healthy enough to go home. That’s what really keeps me going.

What do you feel is the most challenging part of hospitalist work?

Much more so than before—and I think many of my colleagues would agree—there is consistent pressure from case managers and social workers to discharge patients. We constantly have to make decisions that impact patients’ lives, both financially and in terms of health, in addition to affecting the hospital’s readmission rates.

It’s a balancing act: we of course can’t discharge patients until they are stable, but we also have to balance whether they can work with an outpatient physician and expect similar results or whether they really should stay another couple days so we can get to the bottom of the cause and get them well more quickly.

What is one of your favorite parts of working locums?

I tell you what, the best part for me is getting to travel. Aside from that, I honestly enjoy the challenge of going to a facility that is chaotic in the beginning. Within a couple of days, I get to figure out what is going on, how to fix it, and really begin to feel like part of the team. I like the fact that I can step into this new place, a completely new territory, and get the lay of the land and function despite the challenge. That’s the high point for me.

What are some of the challenges of working locum tenens?

It can be challenging to start working in a new facility where people know that their current procedures are not working, yet they are reluctant to implement simple changes that would really improve their processes and—as a result—patient care.

What is something you have learned while working locum tenens? Did anything surprise you?

Honestly, what surprised me most was the sheer need for locum tenens providers. After that, I’d say I’m surprised about how great my experience has been—and that I’m still working locums! It has been unbelievably good.

I will say this though: locum tenens is not for everyone. It takes a certain mentality. If you aren’t bold enough to believe that you can fit in anywhere, locums isn’t for you. For me, I truly believe that as long as I have patients and a stethoscope, I can navigate everything else. The politics, technology, bureaucracy…that’s all just noise. I am there to treat patients.

What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective locum tenens providers?

I actually have two pieces of advice, one for working with your locums company and one for when you go to work.

First, make sure that you are frank about what you are comfortable with in terms of facility setting, location, and compensation. If your account manager knows what you need, he or she is much more able to find you an opportunity that you are happy with.

Secondly, whichever facility you go to, look at yourself as part of the team, like you belong. If you go into a job with the mentality that you are “just a locum,” or that you’re just going to do a job and get a paycheck, you are setting yourself up for failure and I promise that you will end up being unhappy. I tell people to go in thinking, “I own this place, I belong here, and I am going to go in and give it 110%.”

Remember, you work in medicine: your job is at every single hospital in the United States. Whenever you step foot in any hospital in this country, your footprint is going to stay. If you can remember that, you will protect your reputation, the hospital will benefit, and your patients will receive high-quality care—that’s the bottom line.

Is there anything in particular that facilities could change or improve to make locums’ experiences better?

My advice to hospitals is similar to what I tell new locums providers: treat locum tenens hospitalists like a true part of the team. For permanent physicians, it is in your best interest to treat us as if we are “one of you,” so that we can produce like you, meet expectations like you, and provide patients with excellent care just like you are expected to. The moment you start to believe someone is “just a locum,” you hinder their capability to give you 100% of the dedication that they can and should be providing.

At the end of the day, locum tenens providers often have experience in numerous different facilities, diverse practice settings, and even in different medical roles. We’ve been around the block a bit more than average, and we often have additional perspective on what processes are effective and what could be improved based upon what we’ve experienced. Given that, expectations should actually be even higher for locum physicians than they are for the permanent providers. I believe that in many situations, our knowledge is not being tapped nearly enough.

Why did you choose to work with Consilium? How did you first hear about us?

Kyle, my recruiter, called me about a position. He was very positive and just sounded like a go-getter, and he was very straightforward with me about the job details. Soon after that, I was on the phone with Jason, my account manager, and he filled in the rest. They gave me the information I needed to know without sugarcoating it or leaving anything out. I have had other locums companies call me and ask me to work but then refuse to give me important details (such as the facility location) unless I agreed to work.

For me, if you don’t trust me to act like a professional, then we don’t need to work together. I feel like Consilium showed trust in me as a person and a physician, and that made it a lot easier to trust that they would be the right company for me.

How has working locum tenens with Consilium impacted your life?

Jason and Kyle have really made me feel like Consilium considers me as part of the team. I really appreciate that. Maybe a month ago, I got a call about a job and they made sure to tell me that they appreciate my work and asked if I would be at Hospital Medicine 2017 in case they could meet me in person. They make me feel like my work is valued, as if they’re saying, “You’re one of us.”

Another thing Consilium does really well is provide consistency with the people I talk to. If I talk to someone at Consilium I don’t know yet, it’s when Kyle or Jason has already made an introduction so I’m not on the phone thinking, “Who is this person?” Forewarning is very important for me—it makes everything easier when I already have this established relationship.

What is one of your most memorable experiences as a physician?

Wow, there are so many… But you know what, I had a great experience just the other day. I was working in the ICU when I heard a woman say, “Hey you, come here!” I was sitting there thinking, “Who is this lady calling me,” but I walked into the room anyway. She asked if I remembered her, but I could not recall her face.

She said, “You took care of me three years ago. I remember you because of how encouraging you were when you took care of me.” Now, I have no idea what I said to her, but I do know that she must have been feeling vulnerable and helpless at the time and when I came in and spoke with her, that’s what she remembered about the experience. She gave me a big hug and thanked me, and it just made my whole night.

Medicine is both a science and an art. I believe that providing treatments to patients—though it’s what I went to school for—is actually the easiest part of being a physician. I diagnose diseases for a living, so that’s not that impressive to me personally. But when I can truly relate to a patient on a human level, that’s what really brings me joy. When I get to that level where patients trust and understand me and believe that I genuinely sympathize with them and their situation, I would say that I have reached my mountaintop. And that is priceless.

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding locum tenens professionals to provide coverage at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696.

Consilium Culture Unveiled—How Chili Feuds Contribute to Company Success

Company culture is an important consideration when evaluating a job offer. After all, it is the people around you that will make—or break—your work experience. The problem for job seekers is that it can be difficult to glean an accurate picture of a company’s work environment until Day 1 on the job.

We’d like to change that. Read on for a Consilium Q1 review and an insider peek into what “You are Consilium” really entails:

Consilium anniversary

happy-birthday-consilium-2017On January 17, we celebrated the anniversary of Consilium Staffing’s founding with food, fun, and (mostly) fond memories of the journey to where we are today: topping the list of fastest-growing locum tenens companies in the nation.

From weathering literal storms culminating in an AWOL roof (true story: we did take that day off, for the record) to celebrating engagements, the Consilium team has some vivid, memorable tales of our time together.

Building Consilium, A Series

Consilium is committed to investing in the professional growth of each team member and promoting from within the company. To advance both of those efforts, we provide all employees with a seat for Building Consilium, a seven-part presentation series that covers the company journey from a personal perspective, imparts important industry knowledge, and details a clear path to advancing from an entry-level consultant all the way up to company partner.

Chili Bowl

chili-cook-off-2017

On February 3rd, Consilium held its (almost) annual Chili Bowl, which always results in stiff competition between our latent moonlighting chefs. This year we had nine competitors, all of whom met in a fierce culinary clash for one of three gift cards up for grabs.

Winners of the 2017 Chili Bowl were:

  • Jessica Blue (#9)
  • Matt Tate (#2)
  • Krystal Williams (#3)

American Heart Month

heart-wear-red-day-2017February is American Heart Month, set aside to recognize the threat of heart disease and promote steps Americans can take to lessen their risk. Though Heart Month was first designated in 1964, heart disease still is the #1 cause of death for American men and women.  On National Wear Red Day, the first Friday in February, Consilium team members donned red in support of the efforts to raise awareness and increase prevention efforts.

Celebrating Diversity

We know that drawing from diverse perspectives and life experiences makes for more well-rounded ideas and better service to our clients. Historically, however, the contributions of women and people of color have not always been equally recognized throughout the medical and healthcare industries. To commemorate Black History Month and Women’s History Month, we spent February and March highlighting African-Americans and women throughout history who have made a difference in healthcare.

Want to learn more about some of the trailblazers we honored this year? Check out our posts on Twitter at @ConsiliumLocums.

Annual Meeting

annual-meeting-2017

On February 23, we held our annual company meeting at The Westin Hotel in Irving. At Consilium, we take pride in celebrating achievements and recognizing excellence within our ranks. At this year’s meeting, we announced two key promotions and presented seven company-wide merit awards:

Team Member Promotions

Billy Bowden, formerly Director of Account Management, was promoted to Regional Vice-President for the Southeast region.
Andrew Walker, formerly Senior Account Manager, was promoted to Director of Account Management for the Southeast region.

Company Awards

Brent Burrows, Partner and RVP (Primary Care Midwest)—Servant Leader of the Year
Tamara Ratigan
, Accounting Manager (Operations)—People’s Choice Award
Slade Kern, Recruiter (Primary Care Midwest)—Apprentice of the Year Award
Landon Webb
—Account Manager (Primary Care North)—Account Manager of the Year
Lisa Holmes
—Client Sales (Government)–Client Sales Consultant of the Year
Jenelle Zornes
—Recruiter (Behavioral Health)—Recruiter of the Year
Andre Popov
—Operations—Operations Champion of the Year

Read more about what working at Consilium means to this year’s award winners

March Madness 2.0

We may not have spent March making clutch last-second shots from behind the arc, but we weren’t completely removed from buzzer-beater action. Though our production teams periodically hold metrics-based competitions, we up the ante each spring by bringing in a bit of college basketball flavor.

All March, regional teams faced off weekly for a shot at a company-paid team event of their choice to be held the first Friday in April. Each team seeks to best the competition by earning points for top marks in sales, recruiting, and account management metrics like “talk time,” contracts in, and days sold.

The (very proud—trust us) winner of this year’s March Madness was our Midwest team, which successfully pulled off a three-peat win.

march-madness-2017

We work hard at Consilium—there’s no getting around that. But with as much time as our teams spend together, we believe it imperative that some of that time be spent celebrating personal and professional accomplishments, observing holidays and other important events, or simply engaging in good ol’ fashioned sales competitions.

Interested in joining the Consilium team (and potentially helping stage a 2018 March Madness upset)? Check out our current career opportunities.

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Serving Veterans Through Advanced Nuclear Imaging

Consilium Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight-Dr. Lesley Flynt

Dr. Lesley Flynt, who specializes in nuclear medicine, is on assignment for Consilium at a Veterans Affairs facility in Massachusetts. As a nuclear medicine physician, Dr. Flynt captures images of patients’ organs—which otherwise would be difficult or impossible to obtain—by performing imaging procedures that incorporate small amounts of radioactive material. Using the information she gathers from these images, Dr. Flynt is able to determine which radiopharmaceutical treatments are best for each patient based upon their individual genetic makeup and the stage of their presenting disease.

We caught up with Dr. Flynt to learn more about her journey to becoming a physician, her work with Veterans Affairs, and her personal experience with locum tenens.

On Her Path to Nuclear Medicine

Why did you become a physician?

I wanted to do something meaningful, and I thought that working as a physician was one of the most meaningful things I could do with my life. I always considered myself more of a scientist, but the more I delved into science, the more I realized that I could best put my skills and interests to use by becoming a doctor.

What made you decide to go into nuclear medicine?

Molecular Biology is just my “thing”—seriously! It just does it for me: I could talk about cell signaling and DNA replication for days. I originally considered specializing in molecular pathology or molecular imaging (which encompasses nuclear medicine), but I sort of just fell into imaging.

My “aha” moment was during my first scan using imaging agents that could incorporate themselves into DNA. I realized I was actually looking at the DNA of a person in the scanner in front of me; it absolutely blew my mind. I knew then that I had found my place.

 What does a “day in your life” look like?

The great thing about nuclear medicine is that no two days are the same.  Some days I am in the reading room going through studies all day long, some I set aside to determine which studies and treatments are best for each patient, and others I see patients, whom I treat with various radioactive therapies. And of course, some days I do a little bit of everything. Whenever I have residents, I try to throw something in the mix that they can learn from, just like my mentors did for me back when I was a resident.

What is your “why,” what keeps you going on hard days?

The road to becoming a physician is long, hard, and tumultuous, but once you have the opportunity to really make a difference in the life of another person, you realize that that road was a privilege. I feel that privilege daily when patients trust in me to be responsible for their care. I cannot think of any career more fulfilling than being a physician.

On Working with Veterans Affairs

What piqued your interest in working with veterans?

Veterans sacrificed so that people like me would have the freedom to become physicians, musicians, florists, teachers, or anything else they desire. Service members keep us safe, they keep us free, and they deserve the best care possible. Nuclear medicine gives me the unique opportunity to provide cutting-edge imaging techniques and treatments, and if anyone deserves that, I believe it is these women and men.

Recent news articles have brought up the long timeline between being accepted by the VA and the actual date a permanent physician can start work. What was the credentialing timeline like in your experience?

I am pretty accustomed to things not always going smoothly, so when I was hired in early June, I immediately got my paperwork together, submitted all required materials, and received my PIV badge by August, which was in plenty of time for my October start date. It helped that Consilium held my hand throughout the process, so to speak. I found out later that there were several tasks I could have completed myself, but Consilium had already handled all the footwork for me. If I ever had a question that my account manager couldn’t answer right then, she either found out from someone who knew or connected me with someone who could get me the information I needed.

On the Locum Tenens Experience

What were some of your concerns before starting your first assignment?

I worried that everything would somehow fall apart. I am very wary about trusting anything if I have not actually had first-hand experience.

What do you wish you had known before you started working locums?

I wish I had known how smoothly the whole process would go—I would have tried it long before I did!

What was your perception of locum tenens prior to working in the industry?

To be honest, I assumed locums companies just hired you and sent you off on your mission, and that physicians would really only hear from the company when the contract was up. I have learned during my own experience with Consilium that I could not have been more wrong about that.

What led to your decision to work locum tenens?

As a new physician I did not yet know in which sector of medicine (such as a community hospital, university hospital, or Veterans Affairs facility) I would like to work long-term. Locums gives me the chance to experience them all.

Also, I am always up for an adventure. I love that locums gives me the opportunity to try out different healthcare settings and also focus on being the best physician possible without feeling tied down. With locums, if you like where you are placed you can usually stay, and if you don’t, you can always look forward to the next great adventure!

What are some of the best parts of working locums?

The best part of working locum tenens is the ability to focus on my work without worrying about the logistics of life (e.g. when do I get to the hospital, where will I be living, how do I contact this person, how do I get credentialed and obtain permits, how do I get my electricity turned on, etc.). Locums just magically handles all of that for me.

What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective locum tenens providers?

Locums work is really great because you can work a few months somewhere and if you like it, you just stay. If not, you don’t have to stay on after the end of your contract. Know that if desired, you can move on: no questions asked and no hard feelings.

What is one thing you wish permanent medical providers knew about locum providers or the locum tenens experience?

Overall, I wish permanent physicians understood the huge variety in experiences you can have with locums work, as well as the positive impact locum tenens can have on both your personal and professional growth.

Is there anything in particular that medical facilities could change or improve to make locums’ lives easier?

Just treat us as though we are permanent employees and involve us in all aspects of patient care.  This helps locum physicians become more invested in the process, and in my opinion, improves patient care.

What are some mistakes that locum tenens companies make?

Sometimes, I think recruiters and account managers assume that physicians know more than we really do when it comes to housing, insurance, etc. In actuality, many of us have no idea! If you want to recruit more physicians, just lay it all out on the table for us.

On Working Locum Tenens with Consilium

Why did you choose to work with Consilium?

First, I consulted with colleagues who had worked locums in the past. From there I eventually crossed paths with colleagues who had worked with Consilium and they gave nothing but rave reviews. Even if they didn’t particularly favor the city or facility they were in at the time, not one person could say enough great things about Consilium as a company.

What are some things Consilium does well?

Consilium is unique in that they really listen to what their physicians need and want.  I have never felt like I was “bothering” anyone when I made requests.  Anything I have brought to the attention of Consilium team members has always been treated as a priority, no matter how tedious of a request it may be.

Is there anything Consilium team members should do or know to make your experience better?

Maybe throw in a sports car? But on a serious note, I have no other wants or needs in addition to what has been provided. I really feel like Consilium covered everything.

How has working with Consilium impacted your life?

Working with Consilium has given me the opportunity to live in a new place and to work in a completely different hospital setting than I was previously accustomed. I did not have the opportunity to work with Veterans Affairs before Consilium, and I am not sure I ever would have otherwise. I would not trade this experience for the world.

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding locum tenens professionals to provide coverage at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696.