Tag Archives: Hospitalists

Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Combining Knowledge and Intuition to Make a World of Difference

A Family Mission to Heal

Monzer Saad knew he had a passion for medicine by the time he was 10 or 11 years old. Dr. Saad is originally from Lebanon—many regions of which have faced physician shortages due to long-standing civil unrest—which he says instilled a deep understanding of the importance of accessible medical care. Both his uncle and grandfather were physicians, and as a child he relished any opportunity to shadow them at work. As he grew up, it became increasingly apparent that he felt called to become a doctor.

Finding A Balanced Lifestyle with Locum Tenens

After immigrating to the United States, Dr. Saad attended Wayne State University for his bachelor’s degree and then Michigan State University for medical school, after which he completed three years of residency in internal medicine. Through residency and additional volunteer work, he gained experience in an impressive range of medical environments, which span urgent care, intensive care, outpatient community health, long-term care, rehabilitation, and traditional hospitalist settings.

For a time after completing residency, Dr. Saad covered clinic shifts in addition to his hospitalist work. Including documentations, he was sometimes logging upwards of 18 hours per day plus maintaining 24/7 on-call responsibilities. He soon found that—like many physicians—he had prioritized the needs of his patients while neglecting his own. After crossing a clear burnout threshold, he even considered leaving medicine entirely.

Luckily, Dr. Saad had several friends working locum tenens who encouraged him to consider doing the same. When he received a call from Consilium soon thereafter, he jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. He credits this introduction to locums and ensuing Consilium partnership with the fact that he is still doing the work he loves while also spending ample time with his family.

“My pay while I was working to the point of exhaustion was much lower than my earnings for fewer hours as a locum tenens hospitalist,” said Dr. Saad. “I work very hard and I give each patient the best care that I possibly can, so it is incredibly rewarding to feel that I am appreciated and compensated for that dedication.”

“Going with Your Gut” When it Matters Most

Like many physicians, Dr. Saad can provide numerous examples when asked about memorable experiences in medicine. There was one story in particular, however, that left a significant impression on him…as well as on the patient whose life was forever changed due to Dr. Saad’s diligence, persistence, and willingness to follow his gut instinct.

While working as a hospitalist, he admitted a patient in her early 70s who had numerous nodules on her lungs. She was generally very healthy aside from the nodules, but by the time he saw her, all signs pointed to cancer; she was uncharacteristically weak and very tired. After many talks with her family, Dr. Saad recalled, the patient was at the point of just “letting go,” thinking that it was too late. The woman’s family felt there was no reason to undergo the biopsy process to formally diagnose; the final decision had all but been made.

But when Dr. Saad reviewed her medical records, he saw no family history of cancer and no tobacco use yet an extensive personal history of inflammatory problems. He told his patient that he simply was not convinced she had cancer and asked if she would be willing to have the biopsy despite preliminary tests results. After a great many discussions with her, his patient finally told him, “If you have faith that this really might not be cancer, and you truly believe we should go through with this, then let’s just go for it.”

That trust was very handily rewarded: biopsy results determined that—just as Dr. Saad suspected—the nodules were benign. In reality, his patient had a rare but curable condition called Wegener’s Disease that was causing her symptoms. After several months of treatment, she was completely rid of the nodules and had returned to life as she knew it.

Months later, to Dr. Saad’s surprise, he received an unexpected visitor during one of his shifts. His former patient, fully back to her usual spry self, arrived at the hospital and absolutely insisted upon visiting his floor to present him with homemade cookies, her own personal token of gratitude. That moment, according to Dr. Saad, is still one of the most rewarding points of his career.

Monzer Saad currently works with Consilium as a locum tenens hospitalist. When not on assignment, he spends most of his time with his wife and five-year-old daughter.

Learn more about Dr. Saad’s experience as a locum tenens hospitalist: I Was Considering Leaving Medicine…But Then I Found Locum Tenens

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

More from Consilium’s partnering locum tenens physicians:

I Was Considering Leaving Medicine…But Then I Found Locum Tenens

As the healthcare landscape in the United States continues to change, physicians are facing larger patient loads and the burden of increased paperwork and other administrative tasks. One of our hospitalists offered insight into how working locum tenens with Consilium has helped him achieve his best work-life balance, meet financial goals, and continue to do the work he loves most.

“You guys truly are doing an excellent job. That’s why we’re still together now, and I hope for many years to come!”

Why I Started Working Locum Tenens

Before making the switch to locum tenens, I was working in a clinic seeing 4+ patients per hour as well as doing copious amounts of office work and then driving to the hospital to see my own patients. Including documentations, I was sometimes working as many as 18 hours per day on top of being on-call 24/7—I was exhausted and my quality of life was virtually zero. At some point I started thinking that this must be what life was like for an internal medicine physician and I considered leaving medicine entirely. Luckily, some of my friends were working locums and suggested I give it a try—I’m so glad I did!

My entry into the locums world began with a phone call from Christian, my recruiter at Consilium, who spent time learning what sort of work opportunities genuinely interested me. That was soon followed by a call from Brent, my account manager, who helped me book my first locums job. I’ve worked with them ever since, and it has really been a great experience.

The best part about Consilium is that I always feel like I’m somehow the only physician they’re working with. At some point I started wondering, “How can they actually give this kind of individualized care to every physician?” Every interaction feels respectful and genuine, and I really appreciate that.

Perks of Working Locum Tenens

Consilium has provided me with exposure to different medical settings and allowed me to do exactly the kind of work I enjoy while also rewarding me for that hard work. In addition to receiving greater overall compensation while working less exhausting hours, when I finish my shift, I’m actually done. I can go home or to my hotel without having to worry about being paged, and if I want to take a vacation far from the hospital, I have that freedom!

Because Consilium offers you exposure to diverse healthcare settings, you are able to make a truly informed decision about what interests you most. Instead of having to visit a new hospital, go through orientation, and spend time walking around meeting people, Consilium actually pays you to become part of a hospital team and get an inside look at how things work and how that setting fits for you.

Advice to New Locum Tenens Physicians

Prioritize self-care. In locums, just as with traditional positions, you have to be sure that you take care of yourself so you don’t end up burned out. Even if you love what you are doing, you cannot keep up a frenetic work schedule and “all-work, no-play” approach for too long. Be sure that you take time for yourself and stay connected to your friends and family members.

Come in with an open mind. One thing that surprised me about working locums was how friendly and welcoming hospital staff have been. Perhaps I’ve gotten lucky, but I always felt like I clicked with everyone and was able to become part of the team, part of the family.

Understand that your account manager is your advocate when you are on assignment. I love that with Consilium, I know that I can always come to my account manager—or even to my recruiter— if I have any questions or concerns. I know that Brent and Christian will take the initiative to call, email, or text me back and make sure any worries are swiftly handled. They just make things easy for me and I could not be happier about my experience with Consilium.

Dr. Monzer Saad, who is originally from Lebanon, says his love for medicine first developed in childhood when he began shadowing his uncle and grandfather, both of whom are physicians. He currently works with Consilium as a nocturnist.

More locum tenens insight from Consilium hospitalists:

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

Ask a Hospitalist: What Should You Know Before Working Locum Tenens?

If you haven’t worked locum tenens yet, you probably have a lot of questions. What are some of the pros and cons? How might locums work impact your personal and professional life? Is locum tenens the best fit for your current goals?

Three of Consilium’s partnering hospitalists provide insight from their own experience with locum tenens:

  • Dr. Backer—a pharmacist-turned-hospitalist who has experience in emergency medicine, outpatient community health settings, and inpatient internal medicine
  • Dr. H.—a hospitalist, military veteran, and chemistry aficionado with vast experience in traditional internal medicine and varied hospitalist settings
  • Dr. Saad—a hospitalist with experience in urgent care clinics, intensive care units, and inpatient and outpatient internal medicine

How has working locum tenens with Consilium impacted your life?

First, locums has given me the options and flexibility that I needed. Secondly, I really feel like Consilium considers me to be a part of their team, and they provide me with consistency. I appreciate that when my recruiter or account manager give me a call, they make sure to reiterate that they value my work. They give me this feeling of, “Dr. Backer, we consider you to be one of us.” —Dr. Backer

While I was working traditional internal medicine prior to becoming a hospitalist, I ended up going between three different hospitals—it was just too much. Locum tenens has allowed me to achieve my desired compensation while working in hospital settings that I enjoy and am comfortable with. —Dr. H.

Definitely for the better. I came to locums after being underpaid and very much overworked, sometimes putting in 16 or 18 hours of work per day. Quality of life at that point in my life was almost zero. At some point, I thought that maybe this was just what life as an internal medicine physician was like—I even considered leaving medicine completely. Locum tenens has provided me with exposure to different hospital settings and allowed me to do exactly the kind of work I love most while also rewarding me for that hard work. –Dr. Saad

What are some of the best parts of working locum tenens?

I tell you what, the best part for me is getting to travel! After that, I would say that one of the most rewarding parts is the challenge of going to a new facility and navigating that terrain. It’s really a rush to go into a new territory, figure out what’s going on, and become a legitimate, trusted part of that team. –Dr. Backer

Personally, I have very specific financial goals. Locum tenens allows me freedom and flexibility while also providing me with an avenue to meet those goals. Locum work is also a really great way to keep your skills up and prevent gaps on your medical resume, which is important if you plan on applying for a permanent hospitalist position at some point. –Dr. H.

Before working locums, I worked at a hospital in addition to an urgent care clinic after my hospital shifts were complete. My pay during that time was less than what I made while working way less as a locum. Now, when I finish my shift, I’m done. I can go home and rest without having to worry about after-hours pages, and if I want to take a vacation with my family, I have the freedom to do that.—Dr. Saad

What should I know before working locums?

It takes a certain mentality to work locum tenens. In reality, your job exists at every single hospital in the United States, but to thrive as a locum you have to be bold enough to believe that you can fit in and provide excellent care anywhere.—Dr. Backer

Depending on where you live, it might be difficult to find a locum position close to you. If you want to travel the country a bit that’s probably great for you, but after I had a family, that made less distant positions a more desirable choice for me. It all depends on what you are looking for. –Dr. Saad

As I mentioned before, locum positions can help prevent gaps on your resume and help you maintain your procedural skills. Just be aware that when you do apply for a permanent position somewhere, the hospital hiring process will require that they follow up with every facility you worked with previously.

That isn’t a problem per se, but it does create a little extra leg-work for the hospital. So if you do plan on taking a permanent position, I would recommend that at the very beginning of your career, you either choose primarily long-term locum assignments or consider signing a hospital contract after a few years and work those shorter locum assignments as a supplement for a while.—Dr. H.

Advice you would give to prospective locum tenens providers:

Be very direct about what you are comfortable with as far as your desired location, facility setting, and compensation. Your account manager cannot find you the best fit if he or she does not know what you are looking for. Secondly, go into any position with the mindset that you are part of the team and you are going to do your absolute best work. If you go in with this mentality that you are ‘just a locum,’ or just covering that shift for a paycheck, you are setting yourself up for failure. –Dr. Backer

Ask your account manager for as many details on the facility and assignment as possible, and then get absolutely everything in writing. That protects you and helps you schedule your work appropriately. For instance, if I know that a facility really only needs me for 8 weeks and probably will not extend the contract, I want to be able to plan for my next assignment. –Dr. H.

If you anticipate needing verifiable income (such as for buying a house) within the next year or so, talk to your recruiter about more long-term locums contracts. Ask if your locum company can include in your contract—or even a separate statement if necessary— the number of shifts you will be working per month as well as the anticipated equivalent minimum annual salary. That way, you will have something concrete when you seek financing for a new home or a potential business venture. –Dr. Saad

Want more details on our panelists’ experiences with locum tenens? Read more about Dr. Backer in Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Hospital Medicine is Both a Science and An Art.

Interesting in working with Consilium? Search locum tenens opportunities for hospitalists

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.