How to get references for locums credentialing

Doctor talking on phone

Locum tenens physicians, whether domestic or international, must meet specific and somewhat-demanding reference requirements in order to qualify for assignments. If you know you want to take on a locums assignment, whether in the U.S. or on the other side of the world, it helps to know what these are and to prepare now. Building your reference network ahead of time will help make the credentialing process go as smoothly as possible.

Typical requirements

“Our standard Global Medical Staffing process for credentialing (which occurs every two years) is that you need three references from your peers, with at least two from the same specialty, all from the past 24 months, and who have clinical knowledge of your work as a physician,” says Diane Wright, international placement supervisor. “That’s standard for working with some of our international countries and domestic assignments, though some countries have more stringent requirements.”

Meeting these requirements time and time again can burn out your physician references if you repeatedly ask the same people. Also, inaccurate or unresponsive references can delay the process and leave you in a lurch. Here’s how to build your list now:

Healthcare professionals hanging out

Adding to your physician reference network

In order to spread the responsibility, it’s important to build the list of people who can act as your references. Here are five tips that can help:

1. Grow your network

Make friends everywhere you work — and then stay in touch with them. Fast Company has 15 excellent tips on how to make friends at work — from introducing yourself to everyone and finding out what they do at your place of employment, to making small talk or eating your lunch with co-workers. For physicians, it’s critical to expand your network, especially if you’re a locums.

2. Keep a log

Tracking your references with a detailed log makes it easy to identify which of your physician references meet all the requirements (their personal contact info, specialty, where and how long you worked with them). Keep this list up to date, and note who you’ve used as references and when, too. This way you won’t be scrambling for references, and you can spread reference requests across your ever-growing network.

3. Give them a heads up

When you use someone as a reference, be sure to notify them so they are expecting a call. They don’t have to do anything to prepare up front. When the GMS credentialing team contacts them, they will let them know if there are any special reference requirements for the specific assignment — such as completing a form or writing a letter.

4. Grow your list

You can quickly run out of physician references, so make sure you’re always adding to the list. Continually be on the lookout to expand your network — whether it’s a new locums assignment, a board in your community with other doctors, or a medical conference. Look for opportunities to make a good impression, genuinely connect with people, and stay in touch with them.

5. No pre-prepared references

Do not have references write out letters of recommendation ahead of time. “Each location is different about whether they want forms filled out or want a letter of reference, or have other requirements, so don’t have your references spend time writing reference letters ahead of time; they will likely have to repeat their efforts,” Wright explains.

Two physicians walking and talking together

International locations

Some countries have more stringent reference requirements than others. For example, New Zealand requires:

  • Three references in your specialty who are board certified in that specialty
  • They must have worked with you for at least six months in the past three years
  • At least one must be from your most recent place of employment

That means that if your last job was a one-off, five-day locums assignment, it wouldn’t count for one of the three, or if you have a private practice, this requirement can be challenging to meet too.

Wright says: “Typically, if we have a challenge meeting the requirements, we submit four or five references to the New Zealand council and see if they will accept them. Not being able to meet the reference requirement does not automatically disqualify you. It’s a case-by-case basis, and we want to talk with you about it, and see how we can help you through the process.”

“The more you can do now to build your reference network,” Wright adds, “the smoother the credentialing process will go later.”

Do you have tips for growing and maintaining your list of physician references? Share them in the comments below. For the latest locum tenens job openings, give us a call 877.774.5519 or visit our locum tenens job board.