By FlexMedStaff

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The locums agencies refer to their representatives that deal with medical practitioners as “recruiters.” In reality, they are more like salesmen or saleswomen. Their objectives are to find a facility with a staffing shortage and sell the assignment to a practitioner. They then profit off the difference between what the facilities are willing to pay and what the practitioners are eager to take.

The key to any good salesperson is displaying confidence. We all know you can’t spell confidence without the three-letter word “con.” A “con” or “con artist” is someone that deceives, tricks misleads, and/or misrepresents. This is not to say that all locums recruiters are con-artist, as that may not be fair to their profession. We are simply pointing out that many locums recruiters have ways of handling practitioners that are not always sincere or genuine. Simply put, recruiters have a way of feeding you a bunch of BS, and it’s time for a change.

Most practitioners probably remember David Letterman’s famous segment, “The Top Ten List.” For nearly 30 years, Letterman entertained us with Top 10 Lists that were humorous, educational, and thought-provoking.

This article reviews the top 10 misguided things locums recruiters say to practitioners as they try to lure them into a locums assignment. We review their tactics and provide some meaning behind what the recruiters are actually trying to say. All practitioners must learn to decipher the BS from recruiters. Ask the adult next to you if you don’t know what “BS” stands for.

In the same way that Letterman presented his list in a reverse countdown manner, we do the same. Enjoy!

Top 10 BS Lines Heard from Locums Recruiters

10) We are waiting to hear from the facility if you have been confirmed for the assignment.

Translation: A) We are trying to find another practitioner to do it for cheaper. B) We are using your CV to hold the spot to find another practitioner. C) We actually don’t have an agreement with the facility yet to provide locums work for them. D) The assignment was posted by another locums agency, and we are trying to get you in. E) We are charging the facility too much, so they are looking to contract directly with a local practitioner or find another locums agency. F) We only wanted your CV.

9) This is a great place to work and is in high demand AND close to Chicago.

Translation: A) The position has been open for several months as the facility cannot retain local or locums practitioners. B) It is not actually near Chicago; it closer to Madison, Wisconsin, in some small rural community. C) It’s a 3-hour drive once you arrive at the Chicago airport. D) This locums assignment is usually only offered by one locums agency, so we will say anything to get you to take it. E) The fact is, that is not a desirable place to work and has been difficult to find practitioners.

8) It’s industry “standard” to have a 2-year non-compete for locums assignments.

Translation: A) There is no industry standard; we make it up thinking you will take us at our word. B) We could easily remove the non-compete, but then we would miss out on the buy-out fee. C) We put the non-compete there so that you don’t feel the urge to cut us out and go direct with the facility. D) We know that the non-compete is not fair or applicable in all states, but we still want you to sign it. 

7) We don’t get paid for orientation, so neither do you.

Translation: A) We are billing the hospital for orientation but did not want to pay you for that time. B) We were trying to save the hospital money, so we figured you wouldn’t mind doing it for free.

6) We only pay 1.5 times for the actual holiday.

Translation: A) There is no industry standard for additional pay on holidays, we just chose to tell you it’s 1.5x, but you could easily ask for more. B) We bill the hospital holiday rates from the week of Thanksgiving to the first week of January; we don’t pay you extra for those days.

5) I have never heard of a physician in your specialty getting paid that much. If we ask for that, the hospital will drop you. 

Translation: A) We actually pay some practitioners more, but I want to keep my profit margins high, so I will find another provider to do it for less. B) We figure if we threaten you that you will be willing to take a lower rate. C) We control how much we get paid, not the hospitals, but we still don’t want to pay you more.  D) We have already submitted our rates to the hospital, so we need a doctor to do it for less money to keep our profit margins. E) No way will the hospital pay us more because they are already paying us too much, and we don’t want them to know that we are paying you only a percentage of it.

4) We can’t pay that much for travel expenses, so you are stuck with what we provide.

Translation: A) We actually don’t pay for travel; it’s the hospitals that do. B) We want to appear as if we are saving the hospital money, so we would prefer you stay at a Motel 6. C) We could certainly ask the facility to pay more for an Airbnb, but we don’t want to.

3) Sorry, I didn’t realize your negotiated rates differed from your confirmation letter.

Translation: A) This was not an honest mistake; we hoped you would not catch the new rates. B) We never intended to pay you those negotiated rates; instead, we wanted to get you excited about the assignment so that you would take it. C) My boss didn’t agree to those higher rates we spoke about because it would hurt our profit margins.  D) In the industry, we call this a bait and switch.

2) Your assignment has been delayed as the hospital has not completed your credentialing.

Translation: A) We didn’t get the paperwork to the facility in time. B) We actually never had an Agreement in place with the facility to provide locums coverage. C) The facility is still trying to find local coverage or hire a new practitioner. D) We never confirmed with the hospital the start date.

Add Drumroll, Please……

1) We don’t get paid, so you don’t get paid!

Translation: A) We don’t care what your agreement says; we don’t plan to pay you unless the facility pays us.  B) We really don’t want to ask the facility to pay us for terminating you early as it would hurt our business relationship with them. C) Even if the facility does pay us, we may not pay you. D) Don’t hire an attorney to contact us; we will use our lawyers and power to fight back. 


It’s time to call out the locums recruiters and their BS. Not all recruiters are evil, but not all are sincere in the message they deliver to practitioners. Be careful what you hear, and always try to decipher the truth from the BS. You can stop the BS unless you recognize it and call it out.

What other BS have you heard from locums recruiters?

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