Is Locum Tenens Safe for Docs?

Early physician retirement carries risks. / New state licensing models ease multi-state physician practice. / The promise of AI in healthcare.

The LOUNGE - A Newsletter for Savvy Physicians

We scour the net, selecting the most pertinent articles for the busy doc so you don’t have to! Here’s what kept our focus this week…

  • Workplace violence in healthcare settings is on the rise, making personal safety a concern for physicians considering locum tenens work.

  • Are physicians who retire early abusing the system that made them rich?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for telehealth and flexible state medical licenses, but those flexibilities have mostly disappeared.

  • The grim reality of the practice of medicine today.

  • Looking for your dream job as a physician? Don't overlook the importance of understanding and negotiating a Physician Offer Letter.

  • Want to create an environment where your team takes initiative and ownership of their work?


Physicians considering locum tenens work should prioritize personal safety, as workplace violence in healthcare settings is on the rise. Incidents of violence against healthcare professionals are well-documented worldwide, and American healthcare workers now suffer more nonfatal injuries from workplace violence than workers in any other profession. While travel medicine itself may not be more hazardous, the unfamiliarity of being away from home can create a sense of insecurity. To ensure safety and maintain work-life balance, physicians should follow a few key lessons: partner with the right staffing company, get to know the travel department for support, rediscover what they love about medicine, set boundaries and stick to them, be open to new experiences, and have a reliable team to provide backup and support. By prioritizing personal safety and finding the right support system, physicians can have a rewarding experience in travel medicine while maintaining their well-being.

Dr. Bryan Jepson, an emergency physician, shares his experience and insights on the risks of retirement, particularly for physicians who retire early. He highlights the challenges of transitioning from a high-paying job to relying on accumulated assets for income. Dr. Jepson emphasizes the importance of planning and addressing key factors like market timing, inflation, and longevity risk. He also raises concerns about the potential emotional impact of retirement, as physicians may find themselves feeling unfulfilled or wanting to return to work. Ultimately, Dr. Jepson chose to pursue a new career in finance rather than retiring early.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of telehealth and the need for flexible state medical licenses. While temporary waivers of telehealth restrictions have been helpful, the flexibilities that allowed physicians to practice in states where they are not licensed have largely disappeared. However, there are emerging models of state licensing that are making it easier for physicians to practice in multiple states, both in-person and virtually. These models include the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), licensure by endorsement or reciprocity, special purpose telehealth registries or licenses, and exceptions to in-state licensure requirements. The AMA supports a state-based licensure system and predicts that reciprocity agreements will become more popular among states. Hawaii and Missouri have recently joined the IMLC, and research shows that joining the compact is an effective way to increase the number of licensed physicians in a state. The AMA is a strong advocate for telehealth and supports legislative efforts to expand Medicare coverage of telehealth services.

Matthew Troup, a physician assistant and health care executive, reveals the challenges faced by clinicians in providing empathetic care due to the increasing administrative tasks they have to handle. The current model of care delivery prioritizes efficiency and throughput, leaving little time for meaningful patient interaction. Troup shares his hope that advancements in AI can alleviate this burden by automating administrative tasks and allowing clinicians to focus on their patients. With the assistance of AI, clinicians can create more impactful moments and provide the support and counsel their patients need.

Physician Offer Letters are documents that candidates receive after an interview but before a formal contract. These letters outline key provisions such as compensation, location, and recruitment incentives. While non-binding offer letters are common, binding letters are also possible after agreements on significant terms. Candidates should have their offer letters reviewed and gather data before making any counteroffers. Negotiating everything is possible, but it is crucial to have solid data and reasons to support requests. Once key terms are agreed upon, the offer letter goes into a draft contract that should be reviewed before signing.

Managing a large team can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help you become a more effective leader. Vishal Gupta, a professor of management, suggests delegating decision-making to your team members, giving them autonomy and allowing them to develop new skills. It is also important to create a culture of collaboration, where team members hold each other accountable and learn from one another. Trust is crucial in this process, and micromanaging should be avoided. Balancing your own professional needs and those of your team can be achieved by taking a Goldilocks approach, being mindful of your tone and persona, and providing support and development opportunities. It is important to think twice before asking for fewer direct reports, as it could have unintended consequences for your career trajectory.



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