Working as a locum tenens physician has an extensive list of perks, from the potential for high pay, to the flexibility of deciding your own schedule to exploring a new city.
Just like any medical professional job, though, it does require paperwork to start. One of the most popular questions we get about working locum is: Do locum tenens providers need to be credentialed?
The short answer is yes.
State and federal laws require hospitals to have a process in place to screen all applicants and assess their professional abilities before the facility approves privileges to practice care.
This is standard for any assignment at any facility, including locum tenens physicians.
After you accept a locum tenens assignment, the facility will begin the work of the medical credentialing process. There are exceptions to the rule, but this is generally completed before you can begin.
It can be time consuming and challenging for physicians to gather and provide all the documentation necessary for credentials at every new locum tenens opportunity.
The good news: When you work with Lucidity, we aim to make the process more efficient by providing you with the opportunity to get most of the laborious part of credentialing out of the way in advance. The best jobs fill extremely quickly (sometimes in just a few hours), so we need to have all your info ready to go to give you the best shot.
Now when a good job comes along, your key documentation is already stored on our site, making it easy for us to submit your name for the job. As usual, there’s no fee for you.
In a further effort to help you prepare and make this process as smooth as possible, below is a guide to what you will need to prepare for the medical credentialing process.
Documents for locum tenens credentialing
The No. 1 problem in locum tenens credentialing is having incomplete or out-of-date information that delays the credentialing process.
The goal of the credentialing staff is to verify and assess your professional identity, including your education, training, job history, and licenses or certifications.
The exact list of required documents will vary based on the facility, but expect to gather any of the following documents that are applicable to you:
High Priority Documentation – Nearly every job will want this information before hiring you
- Current resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
- All current state medical licenses
- State controlled substance registrations
- Federal DEA Certificate(s)
- Malpractice claims history
- NPI Number confirmation letter
- Current BLS, ACLS, ATLS, PALS, APLS, NRP certificates
Secondary / Specialty-Specific Documentation
- Graduate or medical school diploma
- ECFMG certificate
- CME’s for the past two years
- Current photograph
- Color copy of current driver’s license or passport
- Permanent residence card or VISA (non-US citizen)
- Mammo #’s and MQSA required documentation (radiologist – if applicable)
- Case logs for last 24 months (If applicable)
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) license
With such a long list of documents, it can be challenging for busy physicians to compile everything every time you apply for a new assignment.
Again, that’s why we at Lucidity aim to make it hassle-free by providing you with a place to safely store your documents, giving you the best chance at securing hot jobs.
To prevent the transmission of infectious diseases in the healthcare setting, expect to also comply with health screenings and immunization requirements.
Gather records that show current vaccinations and any recent test results, including any of the following:
- Hepatitis B
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
- Meningococcal disease
Depending on the facility or state, there may be some exceptions if you have medical exemptions, religious exemptions or a signed wavering declining certain vaccines.
Expect to provide 3 professional references
Professional references are a key component of the credentialing process. The facility wants to hear from your peers or supervisors who can speak to your overall competence.
Standard best practice at most facilities is to ask for three professional references, including two who practice within your speciality.
Most facilities will ask for peers who have worked with you in the last 24 months and have first-hand knowledge of your performance.
References may be asked specifically about your medical knowledge as a physician, clinical and technical skills, communication and interpersonal skills and overall professionalism.
Even if you provide a written letter of reference, the facility may contact your reference directly.
Credentialing specialists say they often have to make repeated attempts to hear back from professional references. It can slow down the process or even be a red flag for the facility.
So make sure you have accurate, up-to-date contact information for each person, and give them all a heads up that you’ll be providing their name as a reference so they know to expect a call.
To make this part of the process easier on yourself, maintain a robust database of your professional network who could be potential references.
It could come in handy for you to keep a simple spreadsheet that includes:
- His or her name
- Personal contact information
- When and where you worked together
- Date and job for which you cited him/her as a reference
Continually grow your network and add to that spreadsheet. Make friends where you work by introducing yourself and making an effort to engage with your coworkers.
That way, if you continue to apply for locum assignments and need references again, your current network will not burn out and you will never run out of references who are familiar with you and your work.
Red flags in locum tenens credentialing
The credentialing process is a rigorous investigation because facilities could be held liable if they hire a physician who is later accused of being fraudulent or incompetent.
The exact credentialing process may vary slightly by facility and state. There are some general standards, though, and the following could be considered red flags for your application:
- Incomplete or unsigned application
- Unexplained gaps in job history (i.e. 90 days between jobs)
- Insufficient list of professional references
- References who don’t return calls or who provide vague evaluations
- Pending investigations or past disciplinary actions by any healthcare organization, licensing body or professional society
- Numerous medical liability claims, judgments or settlements
- Criminal background
- Physical or mental illness that could impact your ability to provide care
- Coverage by multiple and different insurance agencies during your career
It’s almost guaranteed the credentialing staff will discover any of these concerns as part of their research, so it’s always best to be honest and upfront about any of these potential red flags.
Fully address any of these as soon as possible with the facility where you accepted the locums assignment. Even minor concerns should be addressed promptly to avoid delays.
Direct communication and a clear understanding of the issue could help mitigate any concerns and give the facility confidence to move forward.
How long does locum tenens credentialing take?
Generally, the medical credentialing process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
By nature, locum positions are often filled last minute, with limited time to complete the credentialing process. Some hospitals have an emergency privilege process, which allows a locum physician to be granted temporary privileges and start right away before the full process is complete. On the other hand, government facilities will have a much more rigorous process to fully background check potential employees.
The No. 1 thing you can do to speed up the process is to make sure you have thoroughly completed every part of the application, including an up-to-date list of your professional references.
The facility might still have follow up questions or paperwork. To avoid delays, respond as quickly as possible to inquiries or requests for additional information. We have seen dozens of providers miss out on a great job, simply because another physician responded more quickly!
The locum tenens credentialing process can be challenging and time intensive, but working with a team like Lucidity will help you make this a smoother, more efficient process. To get started on your next assignment and upload your documents to be pre-screened, click here.