It's common knowledge that general practice is promoted among female medical students because of the built-in flexibility. That flexibility allows female doctors to work their careers around their desire to have children and, after becoming mothers, their schedules around family needs. But vital to the successful family practices of female GPs are family medicine locums who are able to fill in when the GP is out taking care of family matters.
The availability of family medicine locums also makes it possible for female general practitioners to consider having children at an earlier age. Where 20 years ago they were more inclined to work for 5 to 10 years and establish a practice before having kids, the availability of locum tenens physicians makes it possible to start having a family in the second or third year without harming the business viability of the new practice. The key to making it all work is finding a staffing agency the general practitioner can work with and trust.
Not All Staffing Agencies are the Same
Due to the severe shortage of all types of medical personnel, there's been a corresponding boom in the number of medical staffing agencies currently operating in the U.S. But like any other industry, the world of medical staffing has its good and bad apples. It behooves the general practitioner to do her homework in properly researching staffing agencies before signing a contract. If she can find a staffing agency who will work with her on an as-needed basis, with no contract, that's even better.
From the general practitioner’s perspective, a good staffing agency is one that supplies quality physicians in a timely manner and at a fair price. The GP has to be able to trust the locum tenens physician as though he or she were a member of the family. At the same time, the practice needs to be able to afford to pay the locum without breaking the bank. Finding a staffing agency that can answer both needs is part of the game.
There is another available option for general practitioners in need of family medicine locums. Rather than working through a staffing agency, the owner of the practice can advertise in trade publications and online for an independent contractor. Though it's a little more difficult to find family medicine locums working as self-employed contractors, they do exist. Those that choose to present themselves in this way usually do so because it allows them greater control over where and when they work.
One of the advantages of hiring a contract worker is the fact that such physicians tend to be older individuals who are transitioning to retirement. Thus, they tend to be a bit more flexible and more dependable. However, the obvious downside to the independent contractor lies in the fact that if he or she fails you, you don't have anyone else to step in and fill the gap immediately. So consider the pros and cons and choose wisely.
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