A clinician’s first deployment to a new facility or location can be a challenging aspect of the locum tenens experience, but a smooth and efficient start to a locum tenens assignment can have a major impact on physician and APP satisfaction. We sat down with Brooke Thompson, Senior Vice President of Customer Operations to better understand how a locum's agency can work with clinicians to seamlessly integrate into a new assignment and improve the clinician experience.
What is clinician deployment?
At the heart of it, we are getting physicians and APPs to their contract assignments. It’s a big job that is often an afterthought. Before starting an assignment, there are many areas that require attention from travel to licensing. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, meaning locum tenens agencies need to work with clinicians to ensure they get what they need to be successful from day one.
The Clinician Deployment Specialist is a role that we created to stand in as the primary point of contact for clinicians as they begin a new assignment. They understand clinicians’ needs and they are in ongoing communication with them and the client. This directly addresses any onboarding speedbumps encountered right from the start.
Why has clinician deployment become such a focus in the locum tenens space?
There is more competition than ever for talent, making locum tenens an integral part of any healthcare staffing strategy. As a result, we need to create a great experience. That means, as an industry, we are doing something worthwhile. It’s important that we create an experience that leads to more clinicians taking advantage of the perks associated with locums work.
What is the current deployment process like?
Due to an array of factors, deployments can often be stressful and confusing for clinicians. Survey after survey shows that deployment is a pain point for some locum tenens clinicians. If there is no specific person to guide them through this starting phase, this can result in delayed assignment starts, credentialing challenges, and a lack of clarity regarding the facility they are supporting. When clinicians have questions, they aren’t sure whom to ask, often spending countless hours navigating a convoluted troubleshooting process. It is an unsustainable model that leads to a poor experience for clinicians and, ultimately, less access to care for patients.
What can we do to fix the process?
We understand the problem. Now, we need to make sure clinicians are at the center of locums staffing by improving the experience. It starts with creating a main point of contact, who can answer questions and is empowered to act on behalf of the clinician. In 2022, we piloted a Clinician Deployment Specialist role, which fills that void. It didn’t take long for recruiters and clinicians to notice a difference. We heard from clinicians who said they felt supported and were able to focus on patient care instead of the red tape that often distracts them from their work.
How do Clinician Deployment Specialists make a difference?
Clinician Deployment Specialists operate proactively right out of the gate, serving as the main point of contact leading up to day one. They work with the clinician, recruiter and internal contacts to ensure everything is set up for a smooth start, while also monitoring travel preferences to make sure the clinician gets to the assignment on time and stress-free. Once the clinician has started the assignment, the Clinician Deployment Specialist checks in again, making sure there is a smooth handoff between teams. It is a seamless process that shines a light on the importance of the clinician experience.
What is next for LocumTenens.com in clinician deployment?
The clinician deployment role is new to LocumTenens.com, but it is already making an impact. We are rolling this out to more service lines as we scale up to meet the need. As we put more emphasis on taking care of those who take care of us, the clinician experience will improve, which leads to better patient care and outcomes. I’m excited to see where this program takes us as a company and an industry.
If you’d like to know more about our clinician deployment program or how to get started in locums, reach out. We’d love to have a conversation about your unique situation and how we can help.
About the author
Senior Vice President, Customer Operations
Brooke began her career with Jackson Healthcare, LocumTenens.com's parent company, as a college intern in the summer of 2002. In 2004, she was hired by the Customer Care department at LocumTenens.com and swiftly moved up the management ladder. She was promoted to director of the Customer Care division in 2006 and to vice president in 2011 and senior vice president in 2018. As Senior Vice President of Customer Operations, her responsibilities include quality management for the company and oversight of the Customer Care department, CVO, Licensing and Travel. Brooke holds a Bachelor of Science degree in management with an operations management specialization from the Georgia Institute of Technology.