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January 22, 2013
July 5, 2022

You have done the right marketing, attended the ideal tradeshows, and even published a video on your website to attract the perfect candidate, but alas the providers are still not staying with your organization.  You need options and the market place has answered. 

Today physicians are more open than ever to the concept of taking a job for a "test-drive."   The market place has shifted and adapted to the physician shortage as evidenced by the growth of the locum tenens industry.  The locum tenens industry has grown from $750M in 1990 to more than $2.0B in 2009 (source:  NALTO).  Physicians want more flexibility and choice in their work decisions and are therefore more receptive than ever to locum-to-perm assignments.

In fact it is harder than ever to get people to move for an opportunity.   Using locum-to-perm physicians will help you buck this "settling-in trend."  According to a recent study, in 2000 14.2% of the population was moving within the US.  Today that number has dropped to 11.9%.  The report detailed that only 1.6% are moving between states, so getting people to move is more challenging today than ever (Source W.H Frey, Brookings Institution).

It has been our experience that the right "cultural" fit is just as important as the right "skills" fit.  So what is the way to achieve both?   Try before you buy.  Create positions that test drive physicians for at least 90 days, before offering a permanent position.  The “90-day-test-drive" gives the physician the opportunity to experience your work place and community.  
A study from the AMGA in 2006 revealed several key factors that contribute to physician retention:

  • Company Culture:   A "poor cultural fit" is the single most frequently mentioned reason for physicians to voluntarily leave a practice (51 percent).
  • Community:  "Relocated to find a better community fit" (20 percent).
  • Family Ties:   Physician's desire "to be closer to own or spouse's family" (42 percent) and "spouse's job required relocation" (22 percent).
  • Compensation:  "Leaving to seek higher compensation" (32 percent).
  • Schedule:  "Incompatible work schedule" and "excessive call schedule" (17 percent).

During the "90-day-test-drive"

  • Engage:  Engage the provider's spouse and peers to increase the cultural and community fit and connection.
  • Set Expectations:  Set clear expectation on the demands that will be put on the provider.
  • Mentorship:  Assign a mentor to the locum tenens physician. 
  • Training:  Make sure during "90-day-test-drive" that the physician is trained on any coding nuances.
  • Feedback:  Provide written and oral feedback during the "90-day-test-drive."

Given that people are less likely to move between states and that "cultural fit" is as important as "skills fit",  establishing a "90-day-test-drive" locum tenens program at your facility will help ensure successful long-term permanent physician placements - again and again.


Written by:

Health Carousel Locum Tenens Physician Leadership Panel