Appreciated

 

I just posted about my final extension at my current site. Moreover, I wanted to share some kind words that were said to me during the final weeks of my previous extension.

“You have changed the way I see locum tenens.” The Medical Director told me this when asking for my final extension. She said she was previously apprehensive about hiring locum tenens providers but now sees it can work with the right fit. They even hired 2 locum tenens physicians after I started to help with a maternity leave and walk-ins at some of the other clinics.

“In my eyes you are a physician. There are some nurse practitioners that work better than some physicians, and you are one of them.” The physician lead at my clinic mentioned this to me as her eyes filled with tears just thinking of the possibility of me leaving. I will always be a nurse at heart but it is nice to be appreciated by a physician and for them to recognize the benefits of having nurse practitioners at their clinics.

After telling my patient his Diabetic A1c improved from 17% to 8% in only 3 months he said: “That is thanks to you. I appreciate you looking out for me, going above and beyond and doing more things for me than most doctors.”

I sent one of my new patients, whom was completely healthy and on no medications for a routine colonoscopy. The colonoscopy was positive for colon cancer and imaging confirmed an additional renal cancer. Luckily he was able to undergo a partial colectomy and nephrectomy and recuperated really well. After seeing him post-op, he said to me: “Thank you! I wouldn’t be alive here today if it wasn’t for you!”

I thought it would be nice to shares these kind words. It is easy to get burnt out in medicine, but if you remember why you got into the healthcare field in the first place, it should keep you motivated. As a PCP we are constantly hearing ‘complaints’ all day. “My back hurts; I have difficulty breathing; I have no energy” etc. So hearing words of appreciation really makes our day J

Final Extension

Although I initially enjoyed my current assignment, after extending 3 times (for a total of 9 months), I knew it was time for a change. I needed a change in scenery both state-wise and job-wise.

The site asked if I was interested in another extension. I kindly declined and told them I was ready for a change. They hired a physician to take over my patient panel and would like for me to stay an extra 3 months to help transition my panel over to the new physician.

The Medical Director set up a meeting with me titled “What Can We Do to Keep You Longer?” She wanted to respect my wishes to move on but also to make me feel like I was appreciated. She offered me her first and second born children as a joke. She even offered me to house-sit while she went on vacation (she has a beautiful home on the lake with kayaks and jet skis etc.).

Although I knew I was ready to leave, I spent several weeks with an inner turmoil contemplating what I should do. There are normally 4 PCP’s in my clinic, one of them was approaching maternity leave, while another one was having surgery in the upcoming weeks. I felt guilty knowing 1 PCP would be all-alone in the clinic if I were to leave. When 1 PCP is out, it’s manageable. When 2 PCP’s are out it’s a disaster. Think about the walk-ins, phone messages, medication refills, reading of PT/INRs, and paperwork that needs to be completed.

I also thought about my patient panel. When I had taken over for their previous PCP, the patients had been pretty neglected for a few months since their previous PCP had gone on sick leave. I thought about the connections I had formed with these patients since they come to the clinic at least on a monthly basis. I thought about how far these patients had come after first meeting them. The uncontrolled hypertensions now well controlled, improved diabetic A1cs, resolved heart failures, controlled depression, weaning them off their opioid dependencies, and encouraging health screenings to help with early detection of newly diagnosed cancers.

My patience and level of contentment were starting to decline, as I became blasé with this routine lifestyle. The cure to this was to move onto another assignment. But for the reasons above I knew that I had to stay. Another 3 months wouldn’t kill anyone right?

In return for my final extension the site offered me a $5000 bonus. This is equivalent to an extra $10/h over 3 months. They also agreed that I did not have to continue seeing new patients, and can focus on my current patient panel since they are already very complex. The agency I work for offered me an extra round trip flight home and proactive licensing in other states.

The site is hoping when I am doing with this final extension, that I will help them open their new clinics in Florida.

Locum Tenens Blogs – July 2017

This month I wanted to share two articles I really enjoyed reading from around Barton Associate’s Blog.


The first article is: Advice for Being a First-Time Locum: What These Providers Want You to Know! Experienced locum tenens providers shared some great tips. My favorite tip was when working locum tenens, to remember why you are there and not to feel guilty leaving patients or co-workers when your assignment ends.

I also wanted to share this article: 6 Common CV Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to Locum Tenens Jobs. I often help my readers match up with some of my recruiters, and will let them know if their CV needs some work. So this article has a good outline of what your CV should look like! It helps to polish your CV and give it a makeover, especially when applying for your first assignment.

Lastly, if you missed last months posting, you can find it here.

Questions from Readers

Each month I will include a blog entry answering some of the most common questions I get from readers about locum tenens as a nurse practitioner. Feel free to comment any questions you have or email me at travelingNP.com@gmail.com.

How does dating work as a locum tenens nurse practitioner?

 

Many traveling nurse practitioners I know travel with their spouse or significant other. The agencies will certainly accommodate your needs with lodging. Some partners have flexible jobs where they can work from home, making it easy for them to travel. Some partners will fore-go their current job and may pick up seasonal jobs in their new living area. I also know some couples that will just take turns visiting each other throughout the assignment.

For single locum tenens nurse practitioners, traveling actually helps with the dating process. People always ask me if it’s hard to date since I am always moving around. I tell them no, that in contrary it is actually easier to date since I am traveling. This is because I end up meeting way more people than I normally would. I am even able to meet different types of people too.

Miami isn’t known for having an intellectual atmosphere, which made dating pretty tough when I lived there. Being able to move to different cities, I am able to meet people that more closely fit my needs.

Some of my friends that are travel nurses, ended up dating someone while on an assignment. To figure out if things would work, they extended their assignment. If the relationship became serious they eventually just settled down in that city permanently.

In a couple of states that I traveled to, I ended up meeting and dating someone while I was there. By the near end of my assignments, I had to contemplate if staying was worth it. In one instance, I decided to move on. In another case, I decided to extend my assignment to see where things would go. It was nice to have that companionship while I was there, but I do not think I am at the stage where I am looking for something long-term.

Bad Interviews

For the majority of locum tenens positions, a phone interview is done prior to a site offering you a position. They are typically less nerve wrenching in comparison to in-person interviews. In fact, I don’t even think twice about them anymore.

They typically start the same way where the company summarizes how they work and why they have a need at this time. Then they want you to talk about yourself and your background. Sometimes they may ask a few clinical questions as well.

It’s always funny to hear about interviews that went wrong. One of my close friends recited a story to me about an odd interview she had for a locum tenens position. Apparently the interviewer kept talking down to her, making my friend feel like she was on trial. The interviewer made it seem like she was not interested in offering a position to my friend. Then 5 minutes later, she called back asking if it was true that my friend was fluent in Spanish. My friend said yes, and the interviewer said ‘you got the job!’ Of course my friend did not accept.

One of my readers shared her experience interviewing for a locum tenens position. The interviewer told her that when she sees the word “locum tenens on a CV” she thinks to herself “what’s wrong with them, why can’t they get a job?” This didn’t make any sense considering that site was looking for a locum tenens provider, so should be well aware of how locum tenens can fit the needs of a practice.

Fortunately, I’ve had only one bad interviewing experience. The interviewer asked me tons of insurance specific questions that I couldn’t answer. She made me feel like an idiot for not knowing those answers. I didn’t care since my job is to treat patients, not to know the specific details for different health insurance providers. At the end, she still offered me the position, in which I declined.

I think the most important aspect of the interview is to feel like the site will be welcoming, patient, and understanding with you. Considering I will be joining them to provide help, I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that does not give off a positive vibe.

Anyone want to share some weird interview experiences?

5 Signs You Need a Different Recruiter

Our experience with our recruiter will make or break a locum tenens assignment or even our search process. This is why I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good relationship with your recruiter. If you do not like your current recruiter, you can always contact the agency and ask for a different one!

Here are 5 signs that you need to change your recruiter:

  1. Unresponsive – Recruiters are known to blow up our phones and email us constantly. If you are having a hard time reaching your recruiter or if they do not respond to your phone calls, you know something isn’t right. With full time jobs, we shouldn’t have to be the one to chase down our recruiter.

 

  1. Belittling – There are recruiters out there that may speak to you in a condescending tone. You may ask for a certain type of job or pay rate and they may tell you it’s not going to happen. A good recruiter will hear what you are saying and work with you to meet a medium ground, not speak to you as if you are crazy.

 

  1. Unable to answer questions – If a recruiter has no idea when your eligible start date will be or how long your license will take, they should be able to contact someone to obtain those answers. Never settle for a “I’m not sure.” I noticed some agencies are hiring a lot of newbies that don’t seem to know what they are doing.

 

  1. Pushy – It is safe to say that most traveling Nurse Practitioners hate when recruiters can be pushy. When they continuously try to force you to accept a position you do not want or sketchily have you sign an agreement trying to bind you to something you did not agree to. My favorite is: “maybe you can work at this site for the next 3 months until something opens up in your location of interest”. No thanks.

 

  1. Not your Advocate – If you start an assignment and absolutely hate it, you should be comfortable enough to confide in your recruiter. This has happened to me on multiple occasions. My favorite recruiter served as my advocate and made sure my concerns were addressed. On the other hand, I had a bad recruiter who continued to put the site first and nothing was ever changed for my benefit.

 

A great recruiter is always following up with you, even when you are on a current assignment. They will take your needs into consideration and let you know when a compromise may be needed. Most importantly, your recruiter should be your advocate and encourage you in your field.

Locum Tenens Blogs – June 2017

Each month I share blog posts about locum tenens and nurse practitioners from around the web.

Considering a Locum Tenens Nurse Practitioner Assignment? Here Are 3 Questions to Ask

Great article about some important questions to ask prior to starting an assignment or during an interview.

Staying Centered on the Road: Tips for Traveling Locum Tenens Providers

Some interesting tips on maintaining your overall health with life on the road.

Need a Vacation? How to Hire a Locum Tenens Physician or Clinician for Your Private Practice

I think this article can easily address reasons why any nurse practitioner should consider working in locum tenens.

Questions to Ask: Finding the Right Locum Tenens Assignment

For those of you just starting out in locum tenens, this article includes a list of recommended questions for you to ask your recruiters.

Lastly, Barton Associates just released this Nurse Practitioner Resource Hub which is a good tool for all nurse practitioners, even those not currently traveling.

Frustrations of Starting in Locum Tenens

I have been working as a traveling nurse practitioner for a while now, that I forgot how frustrating it could be to initially work in locum tenens.

 

  • Tons of paperwork: Each time you accept a new assignment you have to be credentialed with the new site. This requires filling out tons of paperwork and providing copies of your licenses, vaccination records, certifications, references, etc. If you are also working with a new agency for the first time, expect your paperwork to double. In addition, you will have to do a drug test for both the agency and site.

 

  • Last minute: There will be times you won’t know your exact start date until 1 week out or less. There will be times you wont know where you will be living until the morning you leave. It may be scary at first, but part of working in locum tenens is being okay with the unknown. After a while, you get used to knowing things last minute.

 

  • Licensing issues: Is your license taking longer than you thought? Maybe you didn’t realize you also need a prescribing license, in addition to the RN and ARNP licenses in that state. Some agencies have really good licensing teams that can get in touch with the state board of nursing and expedite the processing of your licenses.

 

  • Recruiters: Not having a good relationship with your recruiter can make your locum tenens experience awful. Your recruiter should be your advocate. If they are putting you down and not being helpful, ask for a new recruiter!

 

I think the above four topics are probably the most frustrating aspects of starting a career in locum tenens. After a while, you get used to those things and realize the benefits of being a traveler outweigh the nuisances. Also, keep in mind that being a traveling nurse practitioner isn’t for everyone.