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Mastering Locum Tenens Hiring as a Healthcare Recruiter


If you’re younger than a baby boomer, it might be hard to imagine a world where healthcare providers weren’t pretty much at your fingertips in terms of accessibility. Yes, the giant machine that is the healthcare industry has certainly evolved from the days when, if you needed a doctor, you had to wait until he traveled to your town. However, temporary (or traveling) medical personnel have been around for centuries and led to the birth of an industry within the healthcare industry known as locum tenens. This particular niche of the healthcare workforce is quite unique and requires a unique approach when it comes to hiring and recruiting locum tenens healthcare professionals. But before we dive into that, let’s take a closer look at the history of locum tenens in healthcare.

What is Locum Tenens and Where did it Start?

Latin for “placeholder,” or “substitute, locum tenens healthcare professionals are temporary healthcare professionals who fill in for full-time staff when they’re absent due to illness, vacation, or other reasons. Locum tenens became more prevalent in modern day medicine in the 1970’s when physicians in rural Utah needed to continue their medical educations. The lack of physicians in the area made it difficult for doctors continue their training and prompted the Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) and the University of Utah to provide not only the additional training to the doctors, they also arranged also for temporary physicians to fill in at the facilities in question during their absence.

Locum tenens providers are not always doctors. They can be physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, other healthcare professionals, and even non-medical healthcare workers. The staffing agencies who specialize in providing locum tenens solutions to healthcare organizations typically take care of the recruitment, screening, and placement, while the healthcare organization reap the benefits the flexibility, cost savings, and continuity of care locum tenens provide.

In a healthcare industry facing unprecedented workforce shortages, it’s easy to understand why the demand for locum tenens providers has been steadily growing. According to one report by a leading locum tenens service provider, the number of physicians taking locum tenens assignments has increased by 88% since 2015. Factor in that 90% of U.S. healthcare facilities use locum tenens every year, and it’s safe to say it’s a growing industry that has the potential to solve a myriad of problems in the healthcare industry.

What Problems do Locum Tenens Solve for Healthcare Organizations?

  • Maintains continuity of care – Ensuring patients in need of ongoing treatment receive continuous care when their regular physician is unable to provide it is critical for achieving optimal patient outcomes. With a temporary provider in place, your patients can continue to receive the medical attention they need, without having to reschedule appointments or visit another provider.
  • Increased patient satisfaction – When there are no gaps in care, patients are happier, and are more likely to continue using a particular provider.
  • Less costs for recruiting and training – By bringing in temporary staff, you can avoid lengthy and expensive recruitment processes, as well as the need for extensive training and orientation. This can be especially beneficial in fast-paced healthcare environments where staff turnover is high, and it can take weeks or months to fill a permanent position.
  • Reduces staff burnout – Overworked healthcare workers are not just more likely to experience burnout and stress, they’re more susceptible to errors, which can impact overall patient care. By maintaining a relationship with locum tenens providers or locum tenens staffing agencies, your team has access to valuable support during peak demand periods, such as flu season or during vacation periods.

How to be Effective at Locum Tenens Hiring

  • Identify your needs: The first step to effective locum tenens hiring is to identify your needs. Consider what positions need to be filled, for how long, and what qualifications are required. This will help you target the right candidates and ensure that they are the right fit for the role.
  • Use multiple recruitment sources: Recruit candidates from multiple sources such as job boards, staffing agencies, and social media. Diversifying your sources of recruitment ensures that you get access to a wider pool of qualified candidates.
  • Be clear about the position: Be clear about the position requirements, duties, expectations, and benefits when posting the job. This ensures that potential candidates have all the information they need to apply and reduces the chances of miscommunication down the line.
  • Prioritize communication: Effective communication is crucial when hiring locum tenens. Be available to answer candidate’s questions, keep them informed throughout the hiring process, and provide regular feedback.
  • Have a comprehensive orientation: An effective onboarding process for locum tenens providers should be in place to ensure a smooth transition. Orientation should include all the necessary paperwork, a thorough introduction to the staff and facility, and clear guidelines on the scope of work.
  • Be proactive: Maintain contact with the candidate once they accept the job offer and start working. Check in regularly and provide the necessary support and resources to ensure their success.

Building a Strong Candidate Pool

As a healthcare recruiter, one of your most important responsibilities is building a strong pool of potential locum tenens providers. These healthcare professionals play a crucial role in ensuring that healthcare facilities can meet the needs of their patients, especially during times of increased demand or staffing shortages. Here are some tips to help you build a robust candidate pool:

  • Develop relationships with healthcare professionals: Reach out to physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to establish relationships and build a network of potential locum tenens providers. Attend medical conferences, join industry associations, and use social media platforms to connect with healthcare professionals in your area and beyond.
  • Partner with medical schools: Partnering with medical schools can be an effective way to build relationships with up-and-coming healthcare professionals. Offer internships or shadowing opportunities to students to get them interested in working as a locum tenens provider.
  • Utilize staffing agencies: Staffing agencies can help you find and recruit experienced and qualified locum tenens providers quickly. Partner with reputable agencies that specialize in locum tenens staffing to access a wide range of candidates with various levels of experience and expertise.
  • Create a referral program: Encourage current and former locum tenens providers to refer their colleagues to your agency or healthcare facility. Offering incentives, including bonuses or paid travel expenses, can motivate them to spread the word and help you build a robust candidate pool.

Streamlining the Hiring Process

Once you have built a strong pool of potential locum tenens providers, it’s time to streamline the hiring process to make sure you keep that pool strong.

  • Create clear job descriptions: To avoid wasting time with candidates who don’t meet your requirements, make sure your job description is as clear as possible. Be specific about the type of work, the length of the assignment, and any other important details.
  • Pre-screen candidates: This is where having the right technology tools can be a life saver. An AI sourcing tool like Arya does the heavy lifting of pre-screening candidates for you. Using 300+ parameters and six multi-dimensional data points to understand and assess candidate relevancy, Arya scores and ranks talent for compatibility, making it faster and easier to find the right candidate for the job.
  • Conduct interviews efficiently: When conducting interviews, make sure to have a clear agenda and stick to it. Keep the interview short and to the point and be sure to ask the right questions to get a sense of whether the candidate will thrive in a locum tenens role.
  • Provide clear instructions: Be specific about schedules, policies, and procedures to ensure that your locum tenens provider have everything they need to be successful.

Getting it right and building a solid strategy for locum tenens recruitment really boils down to effective communication.

Communication with Locum Tenens Providers

Locum tenens providers often work in a variety of healthcare settings, and each organization has its unique policies and procedures. As a healthcare recruiter, it’s essential to ensure that locum tenens providers are fully informed of the expectations, responsibilities, and requirements of every assignment.

Be transparent about each assignment’s duration, location, and responsibilities. You should also provide the necessary details regarding compensation, including hourly rates, overtime, travel expenses, and accommodations. It’s equally important to be upfront about any specific requirements, such as licensure, certifications, or skills.

When it comes to scheduling and time off, it’s crucial to ensure that locum tenens providers have a clear understanding of the facility’s policies. Many healthcare facilities have strict scheduling guidelines and require locum tenens providers to adhere to these policies. By communicating this information clearly and effectively, you can avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.

Final Thoughts

It’s safe to say that the healthcare workforce shortage isn’t going anywhere – anytime soon. But healthcare organizations will still have to find ways to close the gap between the supply of skilled healthcare professionals and the increasing demand for healthcare services. Locum Tenens providers are likely to become more and more popular as a solution and healthcare recruiters will need to map out effective strategies for engaging and retaining these valuable, and more importantly – flexible resources.

Incorporating a multipurpose AI sourcing tool such as Arya might just give your team a game-changing edge over the competition when it comes to hiring not just for locum tenens roles in healthcare, but for any role across any industry. Give your team the edge today and book a personalized demo of Arya.


What is the difference between locum tenens and permanent healthcare positions?

Locum tenens positions are temporary healthcare assignments while permanent positions are long-term roles that typically include a benefits package.

How long do locum tenens assignments usually last?

Assignments can range from a few days to several months depending on the needs of the healthcare facility.

Can locum tenens assignments lead to permanent positions?

Yes, locum tenens assignments can often lead to permanent positions if both the healthcare facility and locum tenens provider are interested.

What benefits do locum tenens providers receive?

Locum tenens providers typically receive competitive pay rates, flexibility in their schedules, and the opportunity to work in different healthcare settings. But locum tenens often enjoy a better work life balance than permanent providers because of their ability to pick and choose their assignments.

How can healthcare recruiters build a strong candidate pool for locum tenens positions?

Recruiters can reach out to locum tenens agencies, attend job fairs and conferences, and network with healthcare professionals to build a strong candidate pool.

What are some common challenges in locum tenens hiring?

Common challenges include finding qualified candidates in a timely manner, managing multiple assignments, and navigating the credentialing process.

How can healthcare recruiters streamline the hiring process for locum tenens positions?

Recruiters can utilize technology, such as applicant tracking systems, and AI screening tools such as Arya that help maintain multichannel communication with candidates and streamline the hiring process.

How should recruiters communicate with locum tenens providers during the hiring process?

Good communication is critical to maintaining a strong pool of locum tenens providers. Recruiters should communicate clearly and frequently to provide updates on every aspect of the hiring process and should also promptly address any questions or concerns a provider may have.

Can healthcare facilities utilize locum tenens providers during staff shortages or emergencies?

Yes, locum tenens providers can be a valuable resource for healthcare facilities during staff shortages, emergencies, vacations, and during peak seasons such as flu-season.

How can healthcare recruiters ensure a successful locum tenens hiring process?

Recruiters should prioritize communication, maintain a strong candidate pool, and collaborate closely with healthcare facilities to ensure a successful locum tenens hiring process.

What’s the difference between a traveling nurse and a locum tenens nurse?

The only real difference is the length of assignment. Travel nurse assignments are typically 13 weeks. A locum tenens assignment can be anywhere from a few days to many months depending on the need, and the healthcare facility.


  • https://fusionhcs.com/a-brief-history-of-the-locum-tenens-industry/#:~:text=The%20locum%20tenens%20industry%20%E2%80%94%20as,provide%20coverage%20during%20their%20absence.
  • https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230322005095/en/Report-More-Physicians-Are-Taking-Short-Term-Locum-Tenens-Assignments

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