Some ten years ago, the average hospitalist locum could pick and choose assignments to take the best of the best. That’s because hospitalists were rare. Today is an entirely different ballgame. Both the supply and demand for hospitalist locums has reached critical mass. Now locums have to work quite a bit harder to get the premium assignments they want.

The volume of premium assignments hasn’t fallen over the years; it is just that the number of doctors competing for them has gone up. In the end, it’s about learning what it takes to get the edge over the competition. It is about knowing what staffing agencies and facilities are looking for and then giving them what they want.

Here are four things every hospitalist locum should know about the search for premium job assignments:


1. Recruiters Appreciate Doctors Who Answer their Phones

There are few businesses outside of professional sports as competitive as local recruiting on a daily basis. Recruiters are battling with one another every day to land the best possible candidates for their clients. It is almost like a feeding frenzy among sports agents in the weeks prior to the draft, except that in local recruiting, the competition is an ongoing thing.

Recruiters have neither the time nor the interest to track down hospitalist locums who don’t answer their phones or respond to e-mail multiple times per day. This is very much a first-come-first-served business. The hospitalist who wants a shot at premium assignments is one that has to be accessible to recruiters.


2. Recruiters Are More Likely to Hire Those They Like

It is human nature to show preference to people you like. To expect anything different from recruiters is not practical. Hospitalists need to understand this principle. They need to treat recruiters with respect and kindness rather than frustration and impatience. Being liked by a recruiter goes a long way toward gaining access to those premium assignments.

On the other hand, the hospitalist who goes out of his or her way to be a pain in the backside isn’t going to get any preferential treatment from recruiters. He or she will get his/her choice of the most undesirable assignments on the docket, though.

Male nurse pushing stretcher gurney bed in hospital corridor with doctors & senior female patient

3. Recruiters Appreciate Easy Negotiators

Recruiting locum tenens staffing is still a business at the end of the day. That means if all other things are equal, the staffing agency is more likely to give premium assignments to those hospitalists with lower salary requirements. What does this mean for doctors? It means they should be easy negotiators.

Negotiating salary is not only allowed, but it is also expected. Yet the hospitalist who digs in his or her heels and is unwilling to budge is one who will have a hard time getting premium assignments – unless he/she’s exceptionally skilled and has a stellar reputation. For the rest, learning how to be an easy but effective negotiator is a critical skill. The hospitalist should know when to push, how hard to push, and when to simply back off.


4. Recruiters Appreciate Doctors Who Appreciate Them

Hospitalists and the recruiters have a sort of symbiotic relationship that is not unlike truckers and their dispatchers. And just like dispatchers appreciate truckers who appreciate them, recruiters are more likely go the extra mile for hospitalists who appreciate the efforts they put into finding premium assignments.

Hospitalists who know the secrets of getting premium assignments know that they need to show their recruiters appreciation. A kind word here and a quick note of thanks there go a long way. In the end, showing appreciation may be the most important factor of all.