Category Archives: Locum Tenens Physician Staffing

Consilium Staffing provides Locum Tenens services to hospitals and healthcare facilities. We place physicians on a tempoary basis.

Consilium Staffing promotes John Moberly to Vice President of Recruiting

Consilium Staffing, a premier locum tenens healthcare staffing firm bringing doctors and advanced practitioners to facilities nationwide, announced the promotion of John Moberly to Vice President of Recruiting. In this newly created role, Moberly will be responsible for hiring, training, and developing recruiters; and assisting with provider marketing and resource development. Moberly is a co-founder of Consilium and brings 25 years of experience to the role, including 10 years as a Vice President for the company.

“Creating this role for John is an important and exciting step for our company as we continue our growth in 2021 and beyond,” explained Matthew Baade, Executive Vice President of Consilium. “By further investing in the development of our people, we can better serve the needs of our clients and gear up for a transformative new year.”

Moberly’s past experience includes launching Med Travelers (a brand under AMN Healthcare Services, formally The MHA Group), which he grew to $41 million in nine years. He also spent six years in locum tenens recruiting at StaffCare.

Moberly has been an influential and highly effective recruiter at Consilium. He’s known for his mentorship and enthusiasm.

“John is one of the top recruiters in our industry. Those who have had the privilege of his mentorship have benefitted, and now everyone on the recruiting team will get to work directly with him,” said D. Kirk Johnson, Regional Vice President of Recruiting at Consilium. “John has an endless supply of passion for the work, and we appreciate his dedication and positive attitude.”

The Year of the Patient

In 2021, patient experience will be the hospital’s greatest competitive differentiator

From telemedicine to a blended care model, experts have predicted that 2021 is poised to be the Year of the Patient. While providing the best service possible has long been the mantra of competitive companies, patient experience is expected to be the top competitive differentiator for hospitals and facilities in the new year.

Findings from the Lumeon report, “U.S. Patient Access Leadership Research 2020/21,” spotlight the importance hospitals are placing on patient-centric experiences. The data reveals that whether care is accessed remotely or in person, the experience the patient has with the facility will be a critical business factor in the coming year.

Understanding Patient Experience

There’s a difference between patient experience and patient satisfaction. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says experience encompasses what happened with the healthcare facility, while satisfaction pertains to whether or not the expectations for the experience were met. To be a patient-centered facility, hospitals have to work to meet each patient’s expectations with across-the-board protocols that meet their needs, regardless of age, issue, and treatment. In 2021 and beyond, patients will expect this level of service.

“Patients are realizing that they have options, and they’ll ultimately make healthcare choices that align with their expectations,” explains Matthew Baade, Executive Vice President of Consilium. “They can choose face-to-face or telemedicine, urgent care or their family physician, and one hospital over another. In many ways, patients have long been poor consumers of healthcare: they went where they always went, or where their primary care provider referred them, and they paid whatever showed up on the bill. But things are definitely evolving.”

Lumeon’s report compiled responses from hospitals with more than 25,000 monthly patient appointments. While quality of care matters, respondents said the experience individuals have will be key in attracting and retaining patients, more so than providing access to new talent or services.

Streaming Workflows

The report revealed that 62% of those surveyed said they were prioritizing process improvement and streamlining workflows. Because reducing appointment wait times is a key component of positive patient experiences, automating tasks can enable staff members to better manage their responsibilities so they can attend to patients faster, the report explains. Faster wait times equate to better experiences, which can then translate into higher patient satisfactions scores.

Telemedicine

Telehealth continues to gain momentum, fueled by our growing comfort with technology and the need to remain remote during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as a growing number of patients opt for virtual care, the quest for experience excellence must also translate to the digital world, the report explains. Although 74% of report respondents said telehealth provided a good patient experience, only about 38% said they thought virtual care was equal to in-person care when it comes to patient experience.

Self Service and Virtual Care

Self-service portals are one way to boost patient access, but 41% of hospitals surveyed said that they have low patient portal adoption rates. But as consumers grow more comfortable with using online resources and virtual care, the mix of remote and in-person visits will fluctuate. In the next 12 months, survey respondents think up to 70% of visits will be in person, with up to 30% conducted via video. The report notes that insurance reimbursements will also play a role in whether patients come into the office or opt for video meetings, particularly if virtual visits are eligible for coverage.

As we move into 2021, the healthcare landscape will transform, fueled by technology and expectations. To capture market share, hospitals have to be aware of what their patients want, and deliver the right experience before, during, and after their visits.

Consilium Staffing supports Vogel Alcove by donating 858 snack bags to help feed homeless children.

The number of bags donated boldly surpassed the original fundraising goal.

Consilium Staffing, a premier locum tenens healthcare staffing firm bringing doctors and advanced practitioners to facilities nationwide, announced the overwhelming success of a recent philanthropic donation. Through Consilium Cares, the firm’s dedicated philanthropic initiative, Consilium Staffing provided 858 “Bye-Bye Bags” to Vogel Alcove, a nonprofit established to support children of Dallas-area homeless families. The bags were filled with ready-to-eat, non-perishable snacks and drinks.

“These snack sacks provide additional nutrition when the children are away from Vogel Alcove, helping to bridge the gap between meals,” explained Heather Bradford, Director of Special Events and Volunteers. “We also use Bye-Bye bags when families drop by with hungry kids, or when we know one of our families will not be receiving dinner at their shelter.”

Consilium’s original intent was to provide 100 Bye-Bye Bags, but employees exceeded expectations by donating an additional 758 additional bags filled with the requested items.

“Consilium’s employees stepped up in a phenomenal way,” said Matthew Baade, Executive Vice President of Consilium. “Not only did they donate the vital items Vogel Alcove’s children need for their health and wellness, but they also decorated and filled each bag to provide a loving personal touch.”

About Vogel Alcove 

Vogel Alcove is a nonprofit organization with the goal of helping young children overcome the lasting and traumatic effects of homelessness. It is our vision that every child in our community has a home, a self-sufficient family, and a foundation for success in school and life. Programs include Early Childhood Services, School-Age services, Mental Health Services, Health Services & Family Support. For more, visit Vogel Alcove.

The Freedom of Independent Contractors

Why a statutory definition of what it means to be a contractor is key to preserving the locum tenens industry

By Matt Baade, Executive Vice President, Consilium Staffing

Even before the term gig economy described the modern labor market, locum tenens was a highly sought-after profession. The flexible, mobile nature of locum tenens means professionals stay on an assignment for a short length of time, then move on to another one, perhaps in a different area, city, or state. This freedom to pick and choose when and where to work is a core benefit of locum tenens, and it’s the main reason why locum providers are classified as independent contractors.

As the gig economy continues to gain momentum, a growing number of employers are struggling to define the difference between full-time employees and independent contractors. This worker classification matters because it impacts overtime, pay, taxation, and more.

In response to the changing labor market, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) submitted a new proposal on September 22, 2020, to the Fair Labor Standards Act with the purpose of streamlining the criteria used to classify workers. While locum tenens providers have always been considered independent contractors, the proposed rule would invite greater interpretation on exactly what classifies an independent contractor and an employee – and it could have a potentially negative effect on locum tenens. This is precisely why entities such as the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) are working diligently to protect the classification by pushing for legislation that statutorily defines locum tenens as independent contractors.

Right now, locum providers have the unique opportunity to participate in the process, namely by advocating for their independent contractor status – and making their voices heard.

Financial Benefits 

As an industry, locum tenens has an enormous impact on patient care. Locum professionals provide an estimated 1 million days of coverage and more than 20 million patient visits annually. The industry also plays a key role in alleviating the nation’s doctor shortage, which is expected to reach 90,000 by 2025. In addition,

over the next 10 years, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that up to 250,000 physicians will retire. Many of these physicians would like to continue working on a part-time or temporary basis, and the locum tenens industry empowers them to remain active.

These stats are important to consider because today, 90% of facilities utilize locum providers to solve staffing shortages, realize operational efficiencies, and meet seasonal or temporary patient demand. Providers, in turn, choose locum assignments because of the freedom and autonomy.

And then there are the financial benefits.

Since locum tenens providers are considered independent contractors, the IRS defines them as self-employed business owners who report taxes through Form 1099. Because independent contractors don’t have state, federal, Social Security, or Medicare taxes automatically withheld from paychecks, they settle up with the IRS with estimated quarterly taxes. (By contrast, full-time employees file taxes through Form W-2 and have taxes taken out of every paycheck.)

As a self-employed business owner, the tax structure empowers independent contractors to write off travel, lodging, meals, and other job-related expenses. Independent contractors can also maximize their retirement savings by contributing the full amount allowed to a self-employed 401k account while also lowering their taxable income.

Autonomy Benefits 

Independent contractors also enjoy the freedom and autonomy that comes from being in control of their work schedule and income potential. Locum providers can decide where they want to work, when they want to work, and what assignments to take to fulfill their career goals. They can accept an assignment because they’re interested in a particular specialty, or turn one down if they don’t want to work in a certain setting.

From a work-life balance perspective, locum providers determine how much they want or need to work and construct their schedules around holidays, vacations, family obligations, and personal commitments. Providers can travel, take time off, or work extended contracts. In essence, the career of a locum provider is customized to his or her ambitions.

What’s Happening Now: Proposed Rule

The proposed rule from the DOL or is designed to help employers distinguish between full-time employees and independent contractors. The rule includes an “economic reality” test to help classify the worker’s status by determining if he or she is self-employed (and thus an independent contractor) or economically dependent on the employer (which would make him or her fall into the “employee” classification).

The rule also lists five factors to help employees classify workers, including the nature of the work, worker skill level, and level of worker’s economic dependence on the employer’s business. While the criteria is specific, the interpretation of the criteria is much more subjective.

How To Participate

The outcome of the proposed rule, which may come at the end of the year, will have a direct impact on the locum tenens profession, and now is the time for providers to speak out. One way to participate is by contacting lawmakers and leaders and ask them to support legislation to statutorily define locum tenens as independent contractors. (You can find contact information for your congressman/congresswoman at www.house.gov.)

A second way to participate is by making a public comment that states your support for statutorily defining locum tenens professionals as independent contractors. DOL’s proposal was published in the Federal Registeron September 26, 2020. Providers can click the green button and submit a public comment on or before October 26, 2020.

You can also read the full proposal from the Department of Labor here. Contact Consilium Staffing for more information on locum tenens opportunities

The New Urgency in Emergency Medicine

Why we must prioritize the well-being of emergency medicine providers 

Emergency care clinics and emergency rooms look quite different today when compared to just a year ago. While there’s long been a shortage of emergency medicine doctors and nurses across the U.S., and particularly in rural areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, significantly stressing an already overburden system.

Today, as emergency medicine responds to the new environment, healthcare is finding ways to take care of another wave of patients — namely the providers themselves.

Stressing the System

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that emergency department visits are down nationally by 42% because of patient COVID-19 fears, there remains an overall shortage of emergency medicine providers – and the gap is growing. By 2033, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortfall of at least 139,000, a majority of which will be at hospitals and facilities located in rural areas. While retirement is the impetus for declining numbers, the system is being stretched even thinner by the pandemic.

As emergency rooms and clinics ramp up testing and treatment for COVID-19 patients, a growing number emergency medicine providers are leaving their positions because of burnout, depression, and mental health-related issues. Disappearing Doctors, a coalition started by FCB Health New York, estimates that three out of four doctors meet the criteria for burnout. And this year alone, 400 physicians are projected to succumb to suicide.

Source of the Struggle

According to this April 2020 article in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, physicians are battling emotional fatigue and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues such as:

  • A lack of resources, including personal protective equipment, ventilators, and beds
  • Increased number of patients
  • Inability to socialize to blow off steam
  • Pressure to make critical decisions
  • Increased personal risk
  • Longer work hours
  • Self-isolation from family and friends; loneliness

Making a Provider-Centric Move

In response to the skyrocketing number of emergency medical providers struggling with mental health issues, the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and many others issued a joint statement explaining the importance of prioritizing provider mental health and creating an environment where struggling doctors can feel empowered to seek help without fear of losing credentials. This need is exactly why Disappearing Doctors was created. The website offers a highly responsive community where doctors can share experiences, discuss issues, and seek assistance.

When a doctor needs a break, facilities can turn to locum tenens providers to ensure the continuation of patient care. With locum tenens, facilities can properly manage their staffing needs, supporting permanent providers with the peace of mind that they aren’t abandoning their responsibilities. Locum providers benefit too, not only from the satisfaction of helping where needed, but from flexible schedules, a work-life balance they can control, and gaining valuable experience working with different colleagues and settings.

“Locum tenens providers can step in as needed, fill staffing gaps, and help ease the stress and burden physicians may feel,” explained Christian Hall, Regional Vice President of Consilium Staffing. “Locums providers offer a flexible schedule and can be on site for a day, week, month – whatever is needed. They’re available across all specialties and are ready to work immediately.”

As the pandemic continues, the importance of giving providers grace and support has never been more critical. Taking care of the caregiver is a necessity – and the only way to ensure we can triumph over COVID-19.

Learn more about how Consilium supports emergency medicine providers

Locum Providers Solve Holiday Staffing Shortages

Whether you’re a provider looking for seasonal career opportunities, or an administrator searching for a timely staffing solution, locum tenens continues to be a popular choice during the holidays.

At the heart of locum tenens is efficiency. As the holiday season approaches, locum tenens providers and the facilities that book them benefit from the flexible nature of the profession — as do the patients and communities they serve.

Facilities: Locums Brings Efficiencies 

In the last year, 90% of healthcare facilities have used a locum professional, and the trend shows no sign of stopping.

The most advantageous benefit for having locum providers is the ability for a facility to adjust its staff at a moment’s notice. This is because vetted locum providers are ready and able to step in with very little lead time, making short-term decisioning possible.

“The holidays are a crazy time for everyone especially when you are scrambling to find a healthcare provider to fill in for last minute holiday coverage,” explains Brent Burrows, Divisional Vice President and Partner, Consilium Staffing. “We’ve been very successful in securing holiday coverage for our clients to ensure their patients and communities aren’t left underserved. During the 4th quarter of 2019 Consilium Staffing saw a 23% increase in days booked for locum providers over the same time period in 2018.”

Overall, staffing efficiencies save resources by reducing redundancy, or in the case of a shortage, relieve overburdened on-staff providers. Locum providers are regularly the go-to solution for staffing gaps, and provide management with valuable expertise when permanent staff takes off for holiday vacations or personal time.

Providers: Why Locums Is the First Choice 

For providers looking for extra income, locums assignments can be a lucrative way to go. Data shows that many locum providers can make up to 50% more than permanent providers, which can be invaluable to those working to pay off student loans and medical school debt.

The flexibility locums providers enjoy refers to more than just picking when to work – it also includes where to work. Locum providers have the choice to work in a variety of practice settings, from an urban ER to a rural clinic. And depending on the assignment, locum providers may also be able to experience an array of different specialties, giving them access to new and different colleagues, patient groups, and knowledge sharing.

Providers also choose a career in locums because there are significantly fewer administrative burdens. Most required paperwork is handled by the employer, and each assignment comes with defined roles, pay, and expectations. This clarity helps the locum provider do the job with precision so they can meet expected outcomes.

Tip: Get Started Now 

Locum providers and assignments will be popular over the holidays, which is why Burrows advises getting started now. “Many healthcare providers are actively looking to work additional time over the holidays,” he says, “and they often book well in advance.”

A people-centric healthcare staffing firm like Consilium Staffing can help you get the licensing and credentialing processes moving, and set you on the path for true success with locum tenens.

Contact Consilium today for more information about locum tenens placements.

Great Minds: The Rising Demand for Psychiatrists

Medical providers are the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the media focus has largely been on those helping patients overcome the physical symptoms of the disease, psychiatrists are also rolling up their sleeves, helping patients find their way to mental wellness.

With an estimated 46 million adults in the U.S. battling mental illness, psychiatrists have long been in demand, and experts predict a shortage of 15,600 professionals by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation, casting a spotlight the necessity of hiring locum tenens providers to fulfill patient need.

COVID Creates Complex Issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new set of complications that prove to have a dramatic impact on mental health. Issues related to loss of income, isolation, loneliness, depression, job stress, anxiety, and fear of getting sick can be devastating. Approximately 53% of adults who participated in a Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll in July said that stress and worry about the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health. As a result, many of these individuals reported issues ranging from difficulty sleeping to alcohol and drug abuse.

With more people in need of treatment from mental illness, the more desperate the shortage of psychiatrists has become. Issues like long appointment wait times and shorter sessions are a detriment to patients, and increased workload leads to provider burnout. As a result, not only are psychiatrists necessary to augment existing staff, but now even more are required to give full-time providers a much-needed break.

Crossing Rural Roads

While psychiatrists are in short supply around the nation, the gap is even greater in rural and underserved areas. For these patients, barriers to healthcare include the inability to find transportation, long distances from homes to providers, and lack of medical insurance. Locum tenens positions empower providers to go to far-reaching communities, bringing relief to those who would otherwise not receive treatment.

The Cure for Provider Shortages
Around the nation, 96% of counties have a shortage of psychiatrists. Locums providers can be the solution to filling the shortfall. Across clinical settings and states, locums providers are comfortable stepping in for a specified timeframe, and then moving on when the assignment concludes.

Amy Gentile, Divisional Vice President and Partner, Behavioral Health, for Consilium Staffing,  said locum tenens psychiatrists can be a smart, sustainable solution for adequately staffing facilities that face a provider shortage.

“Before starting in the locum tenens industry, I worked as a Master Level Therapist with clients who suffered from both substance abuse and mental health diagnoses.  I saw firsthand the importance the role of psychiatry plays in the quality of life for so many individuals,” Gentile explained. “Having a career in locum tenens has offered a unique vehicle to continue my passion for impacting patients’ lives by providing access to psychiatric care.”

As the pandemic carries on, the need for psychiatric care continues to climb. Locums providers can be the voice on the line bringing expertise to hospitals and facilities – and offering treatment and comfort to the patients they serve.

Learn how Consilium Staffing can assist with your locum tenens healthcare staffing needs

Veterans Day Spotlight: A Life Spent Delivering on America’s Promise to Veterans

Photo: This handmade presentation case, sent to Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10454 in Grapevine, Texas, contains an American flag and an Afghan flag flown in Afghanistan in honor of Lisa Holmes. Also included was a note: “Sirs: please present this to Lisa Holmes, from the Soldiers of Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan.” The gold inscription reads, “Lisa Holmes, Thank you from the Veterans.”

As we commemorate Veterans Day, Consilium Staffing would like to recognize the work of Lisa Holmes, Consilium director of government services, who has dedicated more than thirty years to supporting United States veterans and active duty military.

Lisa Holmes means it almost literally when she says that her heart for veterans is just part of her DNA. With her extensive family military history—relatives on each side of Holmes’ family have fought in every American war from the Revolution to Vietnam—Holmes has never known a life unaware of the pride, pain, and continuing sacrifice that comprise the aftermath of military service.

That legacy is part of why Veterans Day has been a meaningful, if bittersweet, event as far back as she can remember.

Photo: Holmes’ parents in France, 1956. Holmes’ father served in the Korean War. His brother—Holmes’ uncle —was an Air Force lieutenant colonel who served in World War II, the post-war occupation of Berlin, and the Korean War, in addition to two tours of duty in Vietnam. Both men enlisted in honor of their father’s service in the Spanish-American War. Holmes’ two brothers served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era.

“Veterans Day has always been a big deal in my household,” Holmes said. “I have vivid memories of the parades, big flags flying off our house, and old stories recounted by my grandfather, still the larger-than-life paratrooper right down to the boots he still wore on November 11. And truthfully, I wouldn’t even be here had World War I not happened.”

Holmes’ grandparents were introduced by her great-uncle John Vincent McGee, or “Vin,” when he insisted that his sister meet the war buddy with whom he had been instant friends (Holmes’ grandfather). Just as he’d hoped, the two hit it off and soon became a couple. Unfortunately, while serving in the trenches during World War I, Vin had been poisoned with mustard gas, a chemical agent that causes severe blisters on the skin and inside the lungs.

“That mustard gas just ate him alive,” Holmes said. “Uncle Vin didn’t live long after the war. He had all these hopes and dreams—including owning his own potato chip company—that he never got the chance to pursue, and he never got the benefits he was promised. I don’t ever want that to happen to another veteran, and I’ll do anything I can to ensure that it doesn’t.”

For Holmes, virtually her entire career has been a means of furthering that goal. From 1983-1993, she served in Germany as a government service contractor for the United States Department of Defense (DoD). Holmes was responsible for ensuring that military units received all the supplies they needed—an especially important job in times of war. Holmes continued traveling between Germany and the United States to support the commands as needed until 2011.

Photo: Holmes accepting an award from Lieutenant General Pagonis in Kaiserslautern, Germany, upon his return from the First Gulf War

In 1998, after moving back to the United States, Holmes was offered a position with the quasi-governmental agency National Industries for the Blind (NIB), which creates federal career opportunities for blind individuals. The NIB is classified as a “mandatory source,” meaning it has legal priority when federal entities determine from which companies to acquire products. Holmes, as national sales manager for the company, would travel to government facilities in her region to secure contracts for products made by NIB employees, ensure compliance with the law, and work to get suppliers on board with their mission.

Holmes recounts the story of meeting a young man whose NIB job was to make the 3M wound tape used by the military. He was 18 years old and had been blinded in a farming accident the year prior when a rock flew up and blinded him in both eyes.

“He gave me a tour of the workshop and proudly showed me their new break room, which was decorated with newspaper clippings about the military going back many decades,” Holmes said. “When I asked him—without thinking—about the stories on the walls, he said, ‘Ma’am, I will never be able to serve my country. But I will help all I can, and this is how I am going to do it.’ All I could think was that this kid was willing to give as much as he could for his country, yet there were people showing reluctance to buy his product? Nope, not on my watch. It was at that moment that my work became a mission.”

Photo: Holmes with Barbara Bush in 1998 while working on behalf of the NIB

In 1999, after the NIB underwent a vertical realignment (meaning that each individual would be in charge of a federal agency instead of a geographic territory), Holmes was told she would be tasked with selling to Veterans Affairs facilities exclusively.

“I was so upset at the time,” Holmes said. “I had a long history with the Department of Defense and suddenly I was being shifted to Veterans Affairs, which had a terrible reputation at the time. We had all heard stories of bad things happening at VA facilities, and soon my name was going to be associated with that. But I sucked it up and did my duty despite everything, and I am proud that I was able to make a difference.”

“Every time I walk into a Veterans Affairs hospital, I see evidence of my work.”

Photo: Working with VA officials Cojean Sprouse and Norbert Matyniak on behalf of the NIB, November 2000

Holmes, who believes strongly in selling face to face when working with government agencies, established the very first VA optical shop run by a blind agency. Even more impressive, she eventually brought 75% of Veterans Affairs facilities under one procurement contract, a feat that was nearly unfathomable at the time.

“I rattled a lot of cages back then,” Holmes recalled. “My work was not always embraced because there was just a certain way things were done. All these alliances had already been formed, and here I was upsetting the apple cart. There was one time in San Diego, after I had landed a significant contract, that a woman actually came up to me and spit in my face. It was a tough slog at times, but I just kept pressing on.”

In 2001, Holmes received a call from Corporate Express (now a Staples company) with an offer to work as their federal sales director. After being promised that the company would automatically switch to products made by blind or handicapped workers—and would categorize the government as a prime vendor—Holmes agreed. Her new role allowed her to travel to approximately 75 different divisions and ensure that federally mandated products were stocked and sold in a manner compliant with the law.

Photo: April 2003, with representatives from the Hines VA Hospital and The Chicago Lighthouse, a social service organization that provides Veterans Affairs facilities with assistive technology for individuals who are blind or visually impaired

“I was able to do a lot of good in that position, and I always tried to get people on the same page instead of using the law to bully anyone into doing the right thing,” Holmes said. “I also met a lot of people while I traveled, which enabled me to help get supplies where they were needed in emergencies, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.”

During Hurricane Katrina, it was Holmes’ company that had the only warehouse—complete with supply trucks—left standing in the area. As a result, they were able to support the entire Gulf with supplies from a procurement cell set up in North Texas. Through her travels, Holmes also happened to have met the man who owned the only warehouse in America with enough towels and blankets that met the strict government requirements for use by FEMA.

However, Holmes said the employee in charge of the warehouse refused to open the doors. With no time to waste, she went right to the top: Holmes made a call to the owner, who just so happened to be a Marine veteran with two Purple Hearts.

“Ken drove down there with a bolt cutter, sliced through the padlock, kicked open the front door, and started loading trucks himself,” Holmes laughed. “And he had that first truck loaded and in Dallas—all the way from Georgia—in about 12 hours. I told my boss we should stage FEMA trailers preemptively so they would already be loaded and ready when the next disaster hit. It took a while to implement because of all the regulatory hoops, but that is a program that still exists today.”

In 2004, Holmes also was asked to run for a board seat with the American Logistics Association (ALA), an organization that was exclusively male at the time and, coincidentally, had strongly discouraged her membership in the 1980s (according to Holmes, the European chapter was quite reluctant to consider including women). When asked what the position would entail, Holmes was told she would go to Congress and lobby incessantly for the MWR (shorthand for the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program) benefits that military members were supposed to have earned by virtue of their service.

Photo: 2003, at the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Conference, sponsored by the MWR Program, Corporate Express, and the U.S. Army

Holmes won the board position and served from 2005-2008. However, on one of her visits to the capitol, Holmes said she was given very disturbing news.

“One of my associates informed me that the transfer cases—which hold the remains of soldiers killed in action—were being ransacked en route from Iraq to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany,” Holmes said. “I was horrified, but I also knew there was a fix. I was determined to figure out who was doing this.”

Modern radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology was still relatively new at the time, but Holmes knew that it held the key to determining when the cases were being opened—and thus, by whom. Thanks to that suggestion, and a connection with someone who knew the technology, Holmes said the culprit was apprehended soon thereafter.

“That was personal to me,” Holmes said. “And it wasn’t a business deal or anything that I profited from—nor did I need to. I simply provided a solution and connected people who could work together to implement it.”

To Holmes, her career is best summarized as a quest to find innovative solutions to pressing problems, whatever those may be.

“There was one time in 2005 that I took a very big risk on behalf of the United States Army,” Holmes said.

She had received a call from an Army contracting officer who asked for a large number of toner cartridges, a seemingly innocuous request. However, two commercial planes had been blown up at that airport two days prior, and the military was asking for the equivalent of about $6 million of printer ink. If she sent planes chock-full of supplies and they were subsequently destroyed, the loss would not be covered by insurance. With that great a loss, her company itself would have been at risk.

“I had to take a step back in my heart and evaluate the impact of my decision,” Holmes said. “It was a huge risk, but they needed those supplies and they knew who to call to get them. After a short hesitance, I said, ‘Yes sir, we will have it there—and your boys will protect my plane.’ He replied, ‘Yes ma’am,’ and that’s exactly what happened. I had effectively opened a supply chain from Europe into Iraq in theater, and that was when our guys rolled up and took over that airport.”

After moving on from Corporate Express in 2007, Holmes brought her federal procurement expertise to several other mandated sources, most recently a service disabled veteran-owned small business based in Atlanta. By 2011, however, Holmes felt that her time dealing with products exclusively was coming to a close.

“At some point, I realized that I was just plain tired and decided to take some time off,” Holmes said. “I was developing my patent at the time (editor’s note: Holmes currently holds the U.S. patent for anti-microbial cards), but I needed to figure out what else to do with my spare time. I decided to put up a sign at my local VFW and offer assistance for veterans who needed transportation to doctors’ appointments at the VA.”

Holmes soon found herself not only transporting but actually accompanying veterans to their appointments. Several of her passengers had suffered traumatic brain injuries in combat and were unable to remember physician instructions, so Lisa sat in and took notes.

“During that time, I saw things that I had never even imagined as a vendor,” Holmes said. “I was incensed about the way our veterans were being treated, and I thought, ‘Boy, this is not what America thinks is going on here.’”

Around that time, Holmes received a call from Consilium Staffing.

“My journey to Consilium was very fortuitous,” Holmes said. “My interest was piqued as soon as I heard they worked with qualified healthcare providers across the country. I realized I could play a small part in protecting veterans by ensuring they get the best healthcare possible.”

Under her direction, a mere six months after being awarded its federal supply schedule, the Consilium Government Services Division won a $40 million contract to place quality healthcare providers in U.S. Army facilities.

Holmes recently attended a Concerned Veterans for America town hall meeting with Senator Ted Cruz, during which Cruz invited Holmes and Consilium executive vice president Matt Baade to Washington, D.C., to present solutions to existing problems in the delivery of federal healthcare at Veterans Affairs and military medical facilities. While in Washington, Holmes also met with Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisitions and logistics at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It was an honor to present solutions to problems that have plagued federal healthcare for so long,” Holmes said. “The current level of care that many of our veterans receive—which I see first-hand when my husband requests care at the VA—is truly in violation of the commitment we made to care for them after they came home.”

Photo: Holmes and husband Jon at the 2014 Military Order of the Purple Heart parade in Grapevine, Texas

Holmes and her husband Jon, a Vietnam War veteran, are active in a number of veteran advocacy organizations. Jon currently serves as Senior Vice-Commander for the Department of Texas Military Order of the Purple Heart and as the State Inspector for the Department of Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Photo: Holmes with Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter—recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, and numerous other military awards. Holmes wears a replica Purple Heart necklace (pictured right) in honor of her husband’s sacrifice and as a reminder to everyone she meets that “freedom is never free.” The necklace was a birthday gift from Jon, who also presented her with the Purple Heart he received after being wounded in Vietnam.

“I live by one motto, summarized beautifully by John Adams’ assertion that ‘Our obligations never cease but with our lives,’” Holmes said. “That, to me, is what it means to be a patriot, to be an American: you support those who defend our country, and then you protect them when they come home. That is a duty I get to fulfill through my work with Consilium.”

Get more information about Consilium’s work in the government sector or learn more about opportunities to provide healthcare for veterans and active duty military members and their families

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Success in Medicine Against All Odds

In her work with Consilium, Denise Willis currently sees patients at a correctional facility in Virginia. Throughout her career, she also has provided care in settings that include rural health, family medicine, urgent care, occupational medicine, internal medicine, geriatrics, behavioral health, and pharmacy.

If you were to enumerate the challenges on the path to becoming a pharmacist, academic lecturer, and physician assistant, chances are that list would not include half the obstacles faced by Denise Willis, Consilium physician assistant and poster child for persistence and determination.

“I never thought I would make it this far, to be quite honest,” Willis said. “I always wanted to succeed, and I was willing to do whatever that required, but there were many times it seemed impossible despite my dedication. Sometimes I still can’t believe I made it through.”

Willis, who was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said she had been captivated by the study of medicine from the time she was a young girl. Some of her earliest memories consist of walking down to the corner drugstore with her father, where a pharmacist everyone called “Doc” would let her come behind the counter and try pronouncing the names of the medications in stock.

“As a child, I read everything I could get my hands on,” Willis said. “My mother used to laugh at me for it, because it didn’t matter if it was the back of a bottle of detergent—I was going to read it. Afterward, I would write down the names of the ingredients and try to figure out what each one was and what it did.”

Though the earliest years of her childhood were marked by some degree of normalcy, that had changed in a big way by the time she turned 7. Her parents split up and her mother fell very ill, leaving a very young Willis with the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings. When she was 12 years old, her mother succumbed to her drawn-out illness—which turned out to be cancer—and Willis was placed in the foster care system.

“It was difficult, and I do think my childhood experiences have a lot to do with my chosen career path,” Willis said. “I had that innate curiosity and passion for medicine, yes, but I also saw up close what it means to have—or not have—adequate medical care. My youngest brother had a lot of health problems too, and those sorts of experiences just stick with you for the rest of your life.”

Despite her circumstances, Willis—determined to succeed—excelled in school. She completed college and then attended the Temple University School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, where she was able to follow in the footsteps of “Doc,” who had first sparked her interest in pharmacy all those years ago. Bringing full circle those formative walks down to Doc’s clinic, as a young adult Willis also reconnected with her father, who revealed that Willis had a number of relatives whom she had neither met nor heard of as a child. Willis and her husband—who were already considering a move further south—met the long-lost Virginia branch of her family and soon decided that was exactly where they wanted to be for the foreseeable future.

“It’s crazy thinking about it now, but I truly didn’t have a reliable support system until I got married to my husband,” Willis said. “Having my father back in my life has made such a difference, and it has been just wonderful to suddenly have family by my side.”

Willis moved to Virginia in 1989, and since then has worked as a pharmacist, pharmacy supervisor, in-house department educator, preceptor for pharmacy and pharmacy tech students, and as a lecturer at the junior college and university levels.

“I even had my own pharmacy for a while back in the ‘90s, which had always been a dream of mine,” Willis said. “It only lasted a few years—up until a chain pharmacy opened right across from us—but I am proud that I was able to achieve that goal even if it wasn’t in the cards long-term.”

By the late ‘90s, Willis had decided that she was just not passionate about pharmacy the way she had been before—she wanted the opportunity to better connect with patients and have a direct hand in their care. To best achieve her ideal patient-provider relationship, she set her sights on becoming a physician assistant. She enrolled in the Master of Physician Assistant (MPA) Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a program that aligned with her belief in providing inclusive, patient-centered care and fostering strong clinical and community partnerships.

When asked about her most memorable moment as a PA, Willis said there is one patient in particular who she could never forget. He was working as a custodian, and upon their meeting it was visibly clear to her that something was very, very wrong.

“This gentleman had severe, severe jaundice, and it was obvious even with his dark complexion,” Willis said. “His eyes, lips, fingertips, overall hue…all of it was just ‘off.’ I asked him to please, please see a doctor as soon as possible.”

Instead, the man came to see Willis, who he trusted would help him get the care he needed. He said he had seen a physician several months prior who—despite clear lab results—had not provided any answers or assistance. The patient’s gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT)—a chemical that might normally be around 60 units per liter (U/L)—was measured at more than 2,000 U/L. Lo and behold, further testing soon determined that the man had cancer.

“I could not believe that it took so long for him to receive treatment,” Willis said. “But because he agreed to come in, he lived much longer than he would have otherwise. I actually discovered that one day several years later when he recognized me at a local grocery store and ran up to thank me. He looked just wonderful, and I’ll never forget the stark difference compared to the first time I saw him.”

Given her vast experience in an array of clinical settings, Willis had been familiar with locum tenens for a number of years, even working an agency assignment as a pharmacist at a Minnesota Indian Health Services facility. Despite positive prior experiences in temporary pharmacy assignments, she was initially wary of taking on locum tenens assignments as a physician assistant.

“If I had to give one piece of advice to other providers who are on the fence about doing locums, I would say to just try it,” Willis said. “It’s not a permanent move if you don’t want it to be, so why not? I hesitated at first because I didn’t know what the experience would be like as a PA—I wish I had made this leap much earlier.”

Despite her lifelong love for learning (and resulting tendency to eagerly take on new opportunities), Willis says she is at a point in her life where she would like to “slow down a little bit,” which is part of why she appreciates the ability to set her own schedule. Willis has partnered with Consilium since 2014, and she specifies flexibility and her working relationship with Landon Webb, her account manager, as reasons she plans to stay with Consilium long-term.

“I stay with Consilium not only because I believe in the company mission, but also because I have truly been enriched by my interactions with everyone I have spoken to,” Willis said. “I know I can always call Landon with anything I might need (even after-hours!), and that’s a huge comfort. It’s just easy with Consilium, and I will never forget the care they showed me after my accident this year.”

In June of 2017, just before starting another assignment with Consilium, Willis had been in a car wreck that resulted in a severe concussion and left her unable to work for nearly two months. She cites the care shown by Consilium team members as a source of support during a very difficult time, serving as further confirmation that she is exactly where she was meant to be.

“They never pressured me to come back before I was ready, and I knew that their concern was for me as a person, not just as a provider,” Willis said. “They worried about me, they called to check on me, and they prayed for me. All of that really meant something to me. When I was ready to work, I called Landon and told him it was time to give it a try, and we jumped right back in where we had left off. My work begins with patient care, and I truly believe that at Consilium, they start with care for their providers. I plan to stay with Consilium for a long, long time.”

Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding quality medical providers to cover shifts at your facility?

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