Locum tenens clinicians are in a unique position. Every new assignment comes with a first day on the job. A locum who takes four assignments per year has four first days. Contrast that to the 20-year veteran who has been in the same job since day one. He has had only one first day.
The first day on any job can be difficult. For locums though, that first day can make or break the entire assignment. What a locum experiences during that first shift sets the stage for every other shift thereafter. That is why the first day is so critical to success.
Below are some important tips for every first day on the job. As a locum tenens clinician, you might already be familiar with these principles. If so, you likely have tips of your own you could offer.
Temper Confidence with Humility
Healthcare administrators appreciate confidence. They appreciate clinicians who know what they are doing and are secure in their own abilities. However, administrators do not like a cocky attitude. They do not appreciate locums who act like knights on white horses arriving to save the day. What’s the lesson here? To temper confidence with humility.
Some might make the same point by simply saying, “tread lightly.” If that works for you, that’s great. The point is to use the first shift to learn. Present yourself like you did during that first day of residency. Be eager to learn, quick to hear, and slow to let your opinions be heard.
Shake Lots of Hands
Every new assignment includes a new set of colleagues. The sooner you get to know them, the sooner you will be able to settle in as a team member rather than an outsider. So take that first day on the job as an opportunity to meet as many of your colleagues as possible. Shake hands; introduce yourself; let your colleagues know that you are there to be part of the team.
Along those same lines, work with your colleagues as opposed to separate from them. Yes, your nature as a locum tenens clinician is such that you know you will not be there forever. Don’t let that knowledge lead you to adopt a mindset of isolation. You are not just filling in; you are joining a healthcare team looking after patients they have developed relationships with.
Be on Time
There is no better way to get off on the wrong foot than being late for your first shift. Make it a point to be on time that very first day. If you can manage, show up a little bit early. Let your colleagues and the administration know that you are there to do the best job you can do. That includes being there when the schedule says you should be there.
Research Ahead of Time
You can help your own cause by having at least a basic understanding of what you are getting into. The best way to do this is to research facilities you’ve never worked before. Take an hour or so of the evening before and learn about your new employer. Figure out what they do, who their patients are, what they are known for, the size of the facility, and so forth. The more familiar you are on your first day, the easier your transition will be.
After you’ve found your next locum tenens job, that first day can make or break your experience. Get off on the right foot and a new assignment could be a wonderful thing. Get off on the wrong foot and the next several months could be misery.