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    What to take on the road


    Accepting locum tenens assignments invariably involves travel. Knowing what to take on the road will help you be more comfortable and prepared when you arrive at your destination.


    Whether your assignment lasts a few weeks or months, make sure you pack enough clothing for work and leisure. While climate will play a major role in your choices, permanent press garments requiring little or no ironing are always excellent staples to toss into your suitcase. After all, maintaining a professional image at the hospital or medical practice is vitally important. Dressing for clinical duty always requires freshly laundered or dry-cleaned garments that project a crisp, neat appearance.

    Contacting a manager at your lodging before you leave to verify types of amenities offered—including dishes, microwave, or refrigerator—is another good idea. This way, you will know whether to bring such items as food, drinks, or housewares. Also inquire about laundry and dry cleaning services. You may need to bring a small iron and tabletop ironing board, and possibly a miniature sewing kit to replace missing buttons or to make minor garment repairs. In addition, check to see if the hotel or apartment complex offers a business center with computer and Internet capabilities. Should you wish to bring along your laptop, determine if wireless, broadband, or dial-up access is available in your room, as well as any associated charges.

    Along with sufficient clothing and other items, make sure you take along ample supplies of your favorite toiletries and personal medications, as well as a miniature first-aid kit. This tip is particularly helpful if your locum tenens opportunity is in a remote rural location far from a pharmacy.


    No matter how far you roam, keep in mind that locum tenens is a business matter. For this reason, it behooves you to include some essential items in your briefcase: a copy of the placement agency's locum tenens contract, notarized copies of professional licenses and certifications useful in credentialing, copies of recent physical exams and immunizations, your "practice profile," and summary of professional responsibilities provided by your recruiter/scheduler.

    These documents will come in handy should any question or concern arise regarding preparation for orientation, required clinical duties, shift hours, or rate of pay. Should you have a chronic medical condition, it is advisable to keep other documents handy in case of a personal emergency. For instance, if you have a history of epilepsy, acute diabetes, heart disease, or the like, it is highly beneficial to store in plain sight in your hotel room or apartment any emergency contact information—including an immediate family member and your personal physician—in the event of a medical crisis. Similarly, among your personal effects, keep readily accessible a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications that you regularly use, as well as any pharmaceutical products to which you are allergic.


    To prepare you for your locum tenens opportunity, the agency recruiter will provide a travel itinerary and make arrangements for airfare (if required), lodging, and daily car rental. Before departing for your destination, be sure you receive a confirmed copy of the itinerary, clear travel directions to the organization, and explicit instructions for on-site orientation. Using http://www.mapquest.com/, http://www.maps.yahoo.com/, or http://www.mapblast.com/, you can print out driving directions and a map of the area for handy referral.

    Details should include the exact time of arrival, where to enter the medical facility, any security precautions (especially if it is a correctional institution or military base), and to whom you should report. Remember, as a temporary physician, making a good first impression is critical, and there is nothing more embarrassing than "just showing up" and being clueless as to where to go and whom to talk to when you arrive on the client's premises.


    Throughout your contract, it is important to stay in touch with your agency recruiter. Specifically, any problems or special concerns should be addressed early on in order to ensure complete satisfaction with the arrangement.


    Calvin Bruce
    Calvin Bruce serves as senior staff writer for Jackson & Coker and as managing editor of the Jackson & Coker Industry Report.