The annual Christmas season is now upon us. That means a lot of running around trying to get things done in preparation for gatherings and celebrations. For family practice doctors, it means trying to juggle all the regular aspects of running a practice with the desire to get patients in and out efficiently so as to not spoil their Christmas joy. This time of year can be hectic for practices already pushed to the edge.
Here is a suggestion: give the gift of locum tenens this Christmas. The ‘gift’ of locum tenens? Absolutely. Bring in a locum doctor or nurse to help take some of the pressure off over the next few weeks. An extra doctor or nurse practitioner can help move patients through more quickly, provide more time for each patient, and still reduce waiting times.
Tips for Bringing on a Locum
Locum tenens doctors and nurses are essentially the medical version of temporary help. As such, they can be extremely beneficial to a family practice during peak times. Christmas is one of those times. Bringing in a locum will not only improve the efficiency of your office through the end of the year, but it might also allow you to take some time off yourself.
To make it happen, here are some helpful tips:
- Staffing Agencies – Work with a staffing agency that has a good reputation. You should be able to find one with a little online research.
- Get Going Now – Do not wait until the middle of December to contact a staffing agency. The sooner you get your request in, the sooner a locum will be at your door.
- Flexible Scheduling – A good way to maximize the potential of locum staffing is to offer flexible scheduling. Maybe the locum you hire would prefer to work four twelve-hour days rather than five eight-hour days. Perhaps another would prefer to work nights. This would make it possible to keep your practice open later without having to be there yourself.
- Routine Cases – One of the things you hate about modern healthcare is not being able to take the time you need with each patient. While you have a locum on staff, let him or her handle routine cases so you can concentrate on the more difficult ones. Your patients will appreciate it.
Other Things to Consider
A locum doctor or nurse can really take the pressure off during the busy Christmas season. But do not stop there. You owe it to yourself and your family to make a few modifications that will allow all of you to enjoy more of the holiday season.
For example, the holiday season is one time of year when doctors absolutely must learn to say no. It is a matter of saying no to professional obligations that are not truly obligations of all – so that family time does not suffer. You do not have to go to every colleague party or professional appreciation dinner. Go to one or two, but give the rest of your down time to the family.
If it has been years since you have taken a family vacation, then bring on an extra doctor or NP and take a few weeks off. Nothing would make your family happier than to spend a solid few weeks with you apart from your medical practice.
Lastly, remember that any locum you do bring in wants to enjoy the holiday season as well. An out-of-town doctor or nurse sure would appreciate an invitation to your home rather than spending the Christmas and New Year’s holidays alone.