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Coronavirus outbreak: a time for the locum tenens industry to shine

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...”   Rudyard Kipling’s famous words encapsulate some of the most fundamental values of our culture. Stoic calm in the face of a chaotic world. Reason countering irrationality. A sense of duty and purpose that triumphs over fear and apathy. These are the virtues that our society is built upon, and we would do well to remind ourselves of them in this present moment.   It remains to be seen how disruptive COVID-19 will ultimately be, but one thing we can say for sure is that locum tenens doctors will be, as they always are, on the front lines treating patients.   At its heart, the locum tenens industry is about the efficient movement of labor to account for spikes in demand in excess of the local supply. The more disruptive any medical event becomes in a particular geographic area, the more we would expect it to drive demand for locum tenens coverage in that area. Certainly, we can all see where the “hot spots” are currently.   Is your firm taking steps to start preparing doctors to go to these areas?   Doctors bravely put their own health at risk every day. Knowing that they may become a patient themselves, as a result of providing treatment to patients, is just a part of the job. We should all be aware that even if they don’t become ill themselves, there is a chance our doctors on assignment may have to stop treating patients temporarily as a result of exposure.   Locum tenens providers are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after treating someone with COVID-19. If this pattern continues, and more doctors are placed under quarantine, it could have major implications for our industry, as we will need to find more doctors to replace those already under quarantine.   At the very least, we should all be thinking about how new developments surrounding the coronavirus outbreak should change the types of conversations we are having with hospitals and doctors prior to the start of an assignment.   Have you checked-in with your doctors to see if any of them have traveled to hot spots recently?   Does the hospital have a plan in place for what they would ask the doctor to do in case of exposure?   Is the doctor prepared to possibly self-quarantine in their hotel room for an extra couple of weeks?   How will you help the doctor meet basic needs while in quarantine?   We live in an interconnected world based on supply chains. Healthcare delivery is its own supply chain, and locum tenens doctors are a critical link in that chain.   As a locum tenens industry, we can step up and do our part to ensure that the doctors are where the patients are – wherever in the country that may be.   Let’s get ahead of the issue.   Over-communicate and over-prepare.   This could be our moment to shine and prove to the world how important locum tenens is to the healthcare delivery network.   Healthcare at its core is about patients. Our careers – and the careers of the doctors we place every day – may be defined by our actions over the coming months. May we all act accordingly

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