We’re at a turning point in healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic washed over the industry like a tsunami, rearranging priorities, care delivery modes, and supply chains. And now that the waters of crisis are receding, many professionals are reconsidering their choices. Some have decided to pursue different goals in their careers – to earn new certifications, choose a different discipline or specialty, or focus on public health initiatives. Other nurses and physicians have decided to opt out of traditional positions in big hospital networks and pursue locum tenens work or positions in underserved areas.  

These paths are attractive for several reasons. Many want the flexibility of locum tenens to have better work-life balance in handling school and family obligations; others like the idea of traveling to different regions of the country; some want to take breaks between assignments. Still others want to experience a variety of patient populations and clinical environments to help them broaden their skillsets. Others like the idea of practicing hands-on trauma medicine, something that may not happen much in conventional staff positions.

Choosing a Supportive Medical Staffing Agency

If you’ve decided to explore this route, you have your pick of medical staffing agencies to choose from. But not every staffing company or assignment offers a fulfilling experience – and it’s important to consider some factors upfront before you tie yourself to a disappointing situation. While professional efficiency and staffing expertise are the baseline, you should also factor these six elements into your decision.

  1. Consider smaller companies vs. big “staffing mill” agencies. The biggest staffing agencies tend to drop people into an assignment and call it a day – something that can leave you feeling stranded in a new environment. Smaller agency recruiters will usually take the time to get to know your professional goals and work with you to find the right fit. Small agencies may also pay better, since they don’t have as much overhead to cover.
  2. Check out their track record. Any agency can present itself as a supportive, reputable company. Confirm that by searching out reviews and testimonials that prove they have a good track record. You’ll also want proof that nurses, physicians, and other staff enjoy working with them.
  3. Ask if they provide clinical support. You should never feel isolated on assignment. A good medical staffing company will provide clinical oversight through medical directors and chief clinical officers, so you’re never on your own or shouldering unfair responsibility. Also important: the agency is physician-led, which means their leaders have worked in hospitals and understand your needs.
  4. Clarify who handles administration and logistics. A staffing company that provides administrative support, such as doing the heavy lifting in terms of lodging arrangements and credentialing paperwork, frees you up to focus on providing care. You’ll enjoy your job that much more and have more energy for your patients.
  5. Confirm there’s room for growth. A locum tenens job can feel great now, but eventually you may find a facility where you could see yourself working long-term. Ask if your agency offers long-term assignments or other pathways, so you can grow your career in a way that works with your changing priorities.
  6. Look for training and professional development. Your assignments may be temporary but your career will span decades. Look for an agency that will invest in their employees’ success by paying for new certifications and even degree programs. They should also prepare you for your assignment, so you can offer culturally informed care to clients from different backgrounds.

Taking Control of Your Career

If you’re looking to change your current career trajectory, think carefully about what each medical staffing agency has to offer. The right partner can open new doors and help you align your sense of purpose with your day-to-day work life. Just be sure to choose a company that serves your best interests – and can provide a foundation for your future success.