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Why More Physicians Are Choosing Short-Term Locum Tenens Assignments

Overweight woman having consultation at the office. Portrait of friendly smiling doctor putting hand on shoulder supporting patient, giving consultation during medical examination in clinic.

In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, hospitals and medical facilities are continually challenged to balance their bottom line profitability while ensuring adequate staffing levels. One approach that has gained prominence is the utilization of locum tenens (LT) or temporary physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. 

However, effective management of locum tenens staffing costs is a critical aspect of maintaining financial health without compromising patient care. In this blog post, we will explore strategies to manage locum tenens staffing costs without sacrificing the coverage you need.

Focus on Planning Ahead

Effective management of locum tenens staffing costs starts with comprehensive planning. Establishing a well-thought-out strategy can help mitigate unnecessary expenses while ensuring seamless coverage. Here are key planning components to consider:

Predict Staffing Needs

Assess your facility’s historical staffing needs by analyzing previous years’ data. Identify recurring gaps in coverage and high-demand periods to anticipate where and when you will need locum tenens professionals.

Create a Contingency Plan

Develop a contingency plan to address unexpected staffing shortages due to unforeseen events, such as sudden illnesses or sudden increases in patient census. Having a contingency plan in place can minimize last-minute expenses.

Establish Preferred Vendor Relationships

Partner with reputable locum tenens agencies that specialize in your specific medical field. Building strong relationships with trusted vendors can result in cost-effective agreements and reliable access to qualified professionals.

Regular Communication

Maintain open lines of communication with your locum tenens providers to ensure they understand your facility’s unique needs and culture. Regular dialogues can lead to better cost management and smoother transitions when temporary staff are required.

Shift Bonuses and Premiums

Many facilities rely on shift bonuses and premiums to incentivize their existing staff to cover open shifts or work during high-demand times. While this approach can be effective in the short term, it can lead to increased labor costs and potentially impact your budget. To manage these expenses, consider the following:

Analyze Historical Data:

Review historical data to identify patterns in shift premiums and bonuses. Are they consistently high during specific seasons or days of the week? Understanding these trends can help you anticipate and plan for staffing shortages.

Balanced Scheduling:

Implement balanced scheduling that allows for adequate coverage without relying too heavily on bonuses and premiums. Utilize your permanent staff as efficiently as possible to minimize additional expenses.

Effective Resource Allocation:

Allocate your resources effectively. Invest in technologies or processes that optimize scheduling, ensuring you have the right staff in place when and where they are needed most.

Contingency Staffing:

As part of your contingency plan, establish relationships with locum tenens providers who can be called upon when your permanent staff is unable to meet demand. This approach can often be more cost-effective in the long run than continually paying high premiums to existing staff.

Last-Minute Travel Costs

Last-minute travel expenses can quickly add up when facilities need to bring in temporary staff on short notice. To manage these costs:

  1. Preferred Providers – Work with locum tenens agencies that can quickly supply local or nearby professionals when necessary. This minimizes travel expenses and allows for more cost-effective staffing solutions.
  2. Remote Work Solutions – Leverage telemedicine or remote work options when possible. Many locum tenens professionals can provide their services remotely, reducing travel costs while still ensuring coverage.
  3. Early Contracting – Establish contracts with locum tenens providers in advance. Early contracting allows you to secure competitive rates and reduce the need for last-minute arrangements that often come with additional costs.

Preserving Revenue Streams with Supplemental Staff

Balancing staffing costs while preserving revenue streams is crucial for the financial health of healthcare facilities. Supplemental staff, including locum tenens professionals, play a vital role in maintaining patient census and revenue. Here’s how you can ensure you’re optimizing this relationship:

Strategic Placement

Strategically place supplemental staff in departments and roles that maximize their contributions to patient care. Utilize their expertise where it is most needed, which can result in a positive impact on patient census and revenue.

Efficient Billing and Documentation

Ensure that your supplemental staff are well-versed in billing and documentation processes. Accurate and efficient billing can help preserve revenue streams and prevent any potential losses.

Patient Satisfaction

Engage locum tenens professionals who prioritize patient satisfaction and quality of care. Satisfied patients are more likely to return, contribute to positive reviews, and enhance your facility’s reputation, ultimately leading to improved revenue.

Regular Assessments

Continually assess the performance of your supplemental staff to ensure they are meeting patient needs and contributing to a strong bottom line. Feedback and performance evaluations can help you make informed decisions about retaining or adjusting staffing levels.


In conclusion, managing locum tenens staffing costs without sacrificing coverage is achievable through careful planning, data analysis, and strategic partnerships with locum tenens agencies. By optimizing your use of temporary staff, reducing shift bonuses and premiums, and minimizing last-minute travel expenses, you can ensure your facility’s financial health while maintaining high-quality patient care.

At VISTA Staffing, we stand as your strategic healthcare staffing partner, committed to helping you achieve elevated levels of patient satisfaction and exceptional quality care. Contact us today and explore how our locum tenens services can transform your medical facility’s revenue trajectory and positively impact your community.

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