Tag Archives: Physician Staffing

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.

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

5 Signs Your Locum Tenens Company “Gets” Community Health

If you’ve worked in community health for any length of time, you’ve almost certainly dealt with the realities of being short-staffed. In fact, at any given time, 95% of community health clinics are operating with at least one clinical staffing vacancy, with about two-thirds specifically seeking a primary care provider, per a report issued by the National Association of Community Health Centers[1].

Permanent physician recruiting tends to be a lengthy, costly process, and many healthcare administrators turn to locum tenens to ensure that their patients are seen in the meantime. But how do you find a locum company that 1.) cares about your specific needs; 2.) understands the distinct challenges you face; and 3.) shows consistent dedication to finding the best possible fit for your facility?

If the following sounds like your experience, it’s a pretty good bet that you’re working with the right people:

  1. Your consultant places your needs over his or her own interests. During your consultation, your Consilium consultant will obtain a thorough understanding of your need (without trying to persuade you to sign on for unnecessary specialist coverage).
  2. Your consultant and account manager are knowledgeable about working with community health facilities, including the needs of your standard patient population, the federal parameters you must work within, and what qualities indicate that a provider will be a great fit for your facility. Among other factors, we know our physicians must value health education and cultural competence to provide the best possible care for your patients.
  3. The process moves quickly. With Consilium, you can expect consistent follow-up from your account manager and required paperwork will be returned promptly, even if we have to handle matters outside normal business hours.
  4. Your more challenging openings aren’t neglected. We get that sometimes it will be more difficult for you to find a provider for clinics in smaller, more rural cities. You have our guarantee that we will make our best effort to find the right person for the job—no matter where it happens to be.
  5. You are consistently treated as though your clinic is a top priority. Because you are likely part of the community in which your clinic provides care, staffing choices have an impact close to home: we know that the providers we send your way may be providing care to your friends, neighbors, and family members. We commit to treating your staffing needs with the urgency they’re due, so those closest to you can get the care they deserve.

Looking for physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners to fill open shifts? Complete our locum tenens staffing request form

Attending the 2017 NACHC conference in San Diego? We’ll be there! Whether you currently have staffing needs or just want more information, come by and visit Billy Bowden and Hamilton Doty at Booth #420.

 

[1] National Association of Community Health Centers (2016). STAFFING THE SAFETY NET: Building the Primary Care Workforce at America’s Health Centers (Rep.).

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?

Health Tips for Male Physicians From Fellow Doctors

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this blog are based on the expert opinions of the quoted medical professionals. Post content does not constitute medical advice and is not a reflection of the official stance of Consilium Staffing.

Despite their vast medical knowledge and everyday immersion in the healthcare field, physicians are not immune from facing the same health struggles they help their patients navigate. In fact, as their schedules becoming increasingly hectic, physicians may actually be at higher risk for hypertension, burnout, and slipping into a sedentary lifestyle, all of which can be linked to poorer physical and psychological health. For Men’s Health Week, we spoke with two family practice physicians for tips on how fellow male physicians can counteract those risk factors and maintain peak physical and psychological health.

  • Sahba Ferdowsi currently practices medicine at a men’s health clinic, where he guides patients through health challenges specific to adult men.
  • Steve Papariello, medical director for the Men’s Wellness Centers located in Florida and Virginia, operated his own practice for more than 25 years.

Make Your Well-Being a Priority (And Don’t Apologize For It)

“You have to truly, truly prioritize self-care,” said Papariello. “If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s a lot harder to provide the best possible care for your patients and to be your best self for your family.”

Many physicians are unsatisfied with their current work schedules, which frequently leave little room for vacations, time with family and friends, or the pursuit of outside interests. That combination can quickly lead to burnout, one of the many factors that lead physicians to make the switch to working locum tenens, which offers the flexibility to prioritize your emotional health while maintaining your medical career.

“If you want to maintain longevity working in medicine, you absolutely have to figure out how to create a realistic work-life balance,” Ferdowsi said. “You have to leave work at work, period, and you have to decide how much you can work and still feel ‘full’ emotionally. I have found that mindful meditation is incredibly helpful in bridging that gap in my own life. I certainly recommend that physicians begin practicing mindfulness as part of their self-care routine.”

Take Charge of Your Own Health by Going ‘Back to the Basics’

If you ask most physicians about the health advice they give their patients, two dominant themes emerge: diet and exercise. But in their personal life? Studies have indicated that as physicians work increasingly long hours, physical activity is erased from their daily routine. [2] Additionally, physicians experiencing burnout are more likely to describe themselves as overweight or obese than are physicians who do not report burnout symptoms. [1, 3]

“It’s something we all already know, but the most important thing you can do to improve your health is to simply return to the big two: diet and exercise,” said Ferdowsi. “Watch your overall calorie consumption, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get up and exercise—even if it’s just going for walks.”

Papariello agrees, and adds the recommendation that busy physicians exercise first thing in the morning. “I get up at 4:30 in the morning to go biking,” he said. “Otherwise, I know it wouldn’t happen. Previously, I worked upwards of 12 hours per day, seven days a week. By the time I got finished for the day, there was just no way I was dragging myself to go work out. But when I bike in the morning, I actually get to enjoy it again.”

Enlist a Support Team

As a physician, you frequently make decisions that affect your patients, your practice, and everyone on your healthcare team. But who helps you take an objective look at your own health and well-being?

Ferdowsi highlighted the importance of relying on a solid relationship with another healthcare provider: your own physician. “Make sure you have a good primary care physician, adhere to the age-based recommended schedule for testing, and if you feel like something might be wrong, don’t put off going to see your doctor. We don’t talk about this nearly enough, but as you age, you become increasingly at risk for developing symptoms associated with low testosterone levels. See your physician if you notice elevated fatigue, decreases in muscle mass, and a loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy.”

In addition to your primary care provider, Papariello adds that family members can be invaluable in helping physicians check in on whether their current arrangement is meeting their needs.

“When I worked such long hours, I was unhappy with my schedule but was too exhausted to do much to change that,” said Papariello. “My move to working as a medical director was actually due to my wife. I came home late one Monday and learned that after seeing an ad for a job that looked like a good fit, she had set me up for an interview the next day. I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since. Now I certainly don’t advocate that everyone go become a medical director, but I would suggest that you keep an open line of communication with those who know you best.”

Daily Health Tips for Busy Physicians

Health and fitness advice can often be nuanced and complicated. Drs. Ferdowsi and Papariello recommend keeping it simple and adding a few of these behaviors to your daily routine for a measureable improvement in your overall health:

Considering a change in your practice schedule or setting? Search our open locum tenens job opportunities and build your career around your ideal work-life balance.

Sources

  1. Helfand BK, Mukamal KJ. Healthcare and lifestyle practices of healthcare workers: do healthcare workers practice what they preach? JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:242-244.
  2. Liang, J. J. (2014). Diet and Exercise During Cardiology Fellowship Training. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 64(16), 1755-1757. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.08.026
  3. Medscape, Physician Lifestyle Report 2015.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact: What Does it Mean for Locum Tenens Physicians?

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), originally introduced in 2013, was first used to issue multistate medical licenses on April 20, 2017. The most-hailed Compact benefit is the lessened turnaround time: physicians are able to complete one online application to become licensed in as many participant states as desired. For providers practicing near state borders—and especially for locum tenens physicians who travel across state lines for work—the IMLC offers a convenient way to expand their services, providing freedom and flexibility to physicians and increasing overall access to healthcare for patients.

The Licensure Compact: Fast Facts for Locum Tenens Physicians

Benefits: The compact greatly increases the ability of locum tenens physicians to travel and provide quality medical care where patients need it most. Consilium is committed to matching our partnering physicians with locum tenens opportunities that best meet their specifications—the IMLC helps ensure that location will no longer be a barrier to helping you find your best professional fit.

Eligibility: Physicians must hold a full, unrestricted medical license in a state that has adopted the IMLC. In addition, you must live or work in your State of Principal Licensure (SPL), or “home state.” For more information on eligibility requirements, visit www.imlcc.org.

Cost: The IMLC Commission will charge one $700 fee for your State of Principal Licensure to conduct your background check. You will then pay state-specific fees for only the states in which you plan to practice medicine.

Interested in working a locum tenens position in a Compact state where you are not yet licensed? We’ve got you covered: in most cases, Consilium will reimburse the state fee for any new Compact license you obtain specifically for one of our opportunities.

The Process: You will complete the online licensure application with your home state, which will then be used to qualify you to practice medicine across state lines. What to expect:

  1. Complete the online licensure application for your State of Principal Licensure.
  2. Your home state will then verify your information and conduct a new background check for a fee of $700. You should receive results within several weeks.
  3. After receiving clearance, you will be sent a Letter of Qualification from your home state.
  4. You can then choose to become licensed in as many participating Compact states as desired.
  5. Submit state-specific licensure fees for your selected states—your additional licenses should be issued within a matter of days.

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Interested in locum tenens opportunities in IMLC states?

Call Consilium at +1 (877) 536-4696 and ask for the recruiter for your area or complete our convenient online form.