A letter from our president
Every year, during the second week of August, we celebrate National Locum Tenens Week. It is a time for us to recognize the work our clinicians do as they treat patients all over the country, both in person and virtually via telehealth, providing care some patients wouldn’t otherwise receive.
Locum tenens clinicians have been doing this work for decades, traveling across the country to help increase access to care. They have always been flexible, going above and beyond to meet the needs of the healthcare organizations they serve. I have always enjoyed hearing about the incredible work they do on their assignments and the impact they make on people’s lives.
This year is different.
It is the first time we’ve celebrated this week during the middle of a pandemic. Clinicians across the country are under an extraordinary amount of stress. Yet they’ve continued to provide compassionate, high-quality care to those who need it most, despite unprecedented circumstances. More than ever before, locum tenens clinicians have risked their own health to provide care where there is the greatest need.
This year, we’re reflecting on the incredible work of our clinicians during a time of crisis and looking ahead to the work they’ll be doing as they try to return to a sense of normalcy. These are some of their stories.
Providing care where it's needed most
Sarah Chase, PA
Sarah Chase is a PA from Georgia. After being furloughed from her emergency department job at the beginning of the pandemic, she decided to work locum tenens to fill the gap in her income and made the brave decision to travel to a COVID hotspot, Mt. Sinai in New York, to treat patients who need her help the most.
“I had a strong desire to help,” said Chase. “I knew when I got to Mt. Sinai, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.” All the other locum tenens clinicians working alongside her had traveled from all across the country to provide aid, too.
Chase ended up working a second locum tenens assignment at Beth Israel, caring for COVID patients who needed long-term treatment. "These patients needed ancillary services like occupational and physical therapy, and for many, it will be a long road to recovery," shared Chase.
COVID-19 has completely changed Chase's perspective on treating and caring for patients. When her children are older and out of the house, she wants to work locum tenens and travel with her husband full-time. "This experience has given me a taste of locum tenens, and I love it."
Interested in working as or hiring a locum tenens clinician?
An act of kindness makes a major impact
Dr. Sarosh Janjua
When locum tenens clinician Dr. Sarosh Janjua was pulled over for speeding earlier this year, she expected to receive a ticket. Instead, an officer gave her N95 masks from his own supply.
"I think we are all just hanging on to something that makes us feel safe," Dr. Janjua shared with CNN. "Somehow, for Americans, that something has become N95 masks and toilet paper. Trooper Schwartz's act of kindness became my something."
When asked why she chose to work locum tenens, Dr. Janjua said, "I started looking into employment options that would allow me flexibility with my work schedule. I haven't looked back since. My work has taken me to several different states across the US, to several different healthcare systems, and my career has only been enhanced by the breadth of experience I have acquired and the wonderful colleagues I have met.
I have seen some of the world, and intend to see the rest. And of course, even the routine of traveling for work has brought me experiences and adventures I could only have imagined in a traditional job. I like to call locum tenens work the best-kept secret in medicine, because while any US physician can do it, making it truly worthwhile requires learning quite a bit about something you never learned in medical training. I think a lot of doctors get discouraged early on by the steep learning curve they encounter, but I have yet to meet anyone on the locum tenens circuit that regretted it!" Now, Dr. Janjua coaches physicians who are interested in locum tenens work but don't know where to start or need help navigating the landscape in their initial years.
Honoring an oath
Tonya Lilly, CRNA
Tonya Lilly knew from an early age she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. "Nurses keep the train running in all healthcare environments. I experienced that firsthand as a child watching nurses care for my grandparents, which inspired my passion. I grew even more inspired by the work they did as I got older," Lilly explained.
Lilly decided to work as a locum tenens CRNA because she valued the way different experiences have helped her become a more savvy healthcare professional. "Working locum tenens has exposed me to various opportunities that have allowed me to grow and expand my knowledge. I have earned skills and abilities that allow me to think outside the box." It's those skills and abilities that made her realize she was well equipped to treat COVID-19 patients at Mt. Sinai in New York.
"I made the decision to serve in a hot spot because I took the Hippocratic Oath. I knew I was needed there. I'm trained to serve, and I work well under pressure. My previous experiences have collectively given me the hands-on experience I needed to be able to help," said Lilly.
Lilly's experience working during the pandemic has impacted her both professionally and personally. "It's taught me to live life to the fullest. It's taught me the importance of laughing more, loving more, forgiving more and being at peace. It's so important for clinicians to build a strong network and take care of each other. Remember to say 'thank you,' 'please' and 'good job.' Show compassion when people are having a tough moment." She wants other clinicians to remember that practicing during the pandemic is a marathon and to remind themselves every day why they chose to work in healthcare.
Matt Erickson, Vice President of Radiology and Oncology at LocumTenens.com, is President of NALTO®.
As we move past the point of crisis, it is time to reflect on the incredible selflessness locum tenens and other clinicians demonstrate daily and consider how temporary legislative measures have greatly benefited healthcare organizations and their patients, said Erickson.
The National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations® (NALTO®) is the only professional association of temporary physician staffing firms committed to a code of ethics and to maintaining the highest industry standards. As President of NALTO®, Erickson's focus is driving member engagement through education as it relates to the ever-changing healthcare legislative landscape. You can read more of his commentary on this year's National Locum Tenens Week by clicking here and the National Locum Tenens Week 2020 press release by clicking here.
Gaining experience through locum tenens work
Sridhar Rajamani, MD, MBA
Dr. Rajamani practices in Arizona and California, which have recently become COVID-19 hot spots. He has experience with locum tenens both as a clinician himself as well as a former administrative and medical director of a large critical care practice.
He believes locum tenens clinicians play a significant role in the pandemic response across the country, not only in securing necessary coverage in geographically isolated places where full-time clinician recruitment is typically challenging, but also as a way to provide relief to full-time staff who are experiencing burnout and exhaustion.
"As a locum tenens physician, I learn from other physicians and organizations and bring back the knowledge and positive experiences to my practice," he said. "I'm able to incorporate what works better elsewhere to improve our protocols, policies and equipment. Seeing new places and interacting with different people has provided me with invaluable experience."
Providing healthcare and emotional support
Marguerite Vardman, NP
Marguerite started in the healthcare field in 1971 as a visiting nurse. She’s worked through the swine flu, measles and spent time treating HIV patients. She knew COVID-19 was just her next hurdle and something she could handle. Also ordained as hospital chaplain, she said of her time at Mt. Sinai, “I was put here on Earth to treat everyone.” She treated patients and their families through healthcare and also emotional support. She valued her time with caregivers over the phone or FaceTime, making sure they felt they were still part of the care process for her patients.
“When my recruiter asked me if I was interested in traveling to New York to help with COVID-19 patients, my first thought was ‘she wants me to go to the epicenter?!’ But then I prayed about it, and realized it was what I needed to do,” she explained.
Marguerite is now continuing her mission to treat COVID-19 patients in one of the new hot spots in California.