Is There a Better Way to Find a Locum Doctor? 


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If you’re working in healthcare, you will already be familiar with challenges like changing clinics or finding coverage for a colleague. Whether you are a physician looking for a new clinic or a clinic looking for a locum doctor, this process has never been easy. 

Doctors, like everyone else, get sick, have personal responsibilities, or need to take time off work. Another increasing area of worry is physician retention.

Recent survey data from Canadian Medical Association has found that physician burnout has nearly doubled during the pandemic. Increasing workloads, rapidly changing policies and a lack of work-life integration have worsened a health workforce mental health crisis.

As it stands, recruiting and retaining physicians are top priorities in Canadian healthcare. On a clinic level, this can be seen in the struggle to get new doctors into clinics and to keep existing clinic physicians happy, healthy, and effective.

Looking to improve your physician & locum doctor recruitment and retention?

In an webinar, Dr. Jordan Vollrath of Cherry Health talked about recruitment and retention, providing valuable insight into how clinics can stand out in a saturated market.

The webinar covered:

With the new codes for virtual services starting later in 2022, physicians will get paid different rates for

  • What doctors and locums are looking for when evaluating potential clinics
  • How clinics can capitalize on word-of-mouth referrals
  • National and provincial resources for clinics to recruit doctors and locums

Given the importance of the issues to clinics, we’ve summarized the main points from this webinar and outlined strategies and resources available to you.

Part 1: How To Keep Your Doctors Happy!

To solve your physician recruitment problems, it always helps to prioritize the happiness of your existing physicians and locum doctors. This can help in reducing the turnover at your clinic. It can also increase the likelihood that locums will return to your clinic or refer you to their colleagues.

So, let’s start by looking at Dr. Vollrath’s tips for making your physicians happy. This is a vital first step, as it helps you retain existing physicians. Ensuring physician happiness can also improve your chances of current and previous physicians making referrals.


Provide an orientation that includes the following:

  • The building and clinic
  • Staff members and their roles
  • An overview of clinical workflows
  • Provide some EMR training and resources
  • Where to find supplies
  • A summary of community resources
  • Onboard physicians into your billing system
  • Provide a good handover for patients of concern or with pending labs


Help to make the experience easy for your locum doctors by easing frustrations and fears, particularly around efficient clinical and EMR workflows.

  • Helpful and knowledgeable long-term staff can make your clinic stand out
  • Great staff also helps to ensure efficient workflows
  • Provide locums with fresh tasks & labs inbox as walking into a mess will likely impact happiness and future referrals
  • Ensure your physicians are busy
  • Provide good chart notes and patient plans
  • Ensure there is emergency backup available, particularly in rural regions
  • Make sure your expectations match regarding appointment length, flexibility, call schedules, etc.


A physician’s experience with your clinic isn’t over the moment they have seen their last patient, at least it shouldn’t be!

  • Provide a fast payment to the physician
  • Follow-up on lab results, for both medico-legal and educational reasons
  • Seek feedback through an exit interview or conversation

To help cultivate relationships and ensure referrals, providing physicians with their payment should be fast and fuss-free.

It’s also a great time to learn how your clinic compares and can improve. Locum doctors are well-placed to comment as they visit multiple clinics and can offer constructive feedback on where your clinic can save time and money.

Part 2: What are physicians and locum doctors looking for?

This can be summarized as follows:

  • Right Time
    • Physicians need advanced notice – at least 3 months on average
    • The summer presents an opportunity to find new graduate physicians
    • Most locums book at least 1 month – with an average of 120 days
  • Right Pay
    • What is the remuneration model – FHO vs FFS or other?
    • What are the expenses and anticipated earnings?
    • Are the incentives, such as daily rates or subsidies, to factor in?
  • Right Fit
    • Where is the clinic – is close to their home or areas of interest?
    • Is the clinic family practice or majority walk-in, and is it a rural or urban area?
    • What are the patient population and physician culture?

Part 3: How do you find a physician or locum doctor?

Until recently, there are five main channels for finding new doctors, with most clinics nowadays choosing to use a combination of these.

  • Take on learners – medical students & residents       
    • This is a great way to create a pipeline with local educational institutions
  • Referrals are a major component of successful recruitment
    • You’re current and previous locum doctors as well as current existing physicians are a great way to find new doctors
  • Online offers various ways to reach potential doctors
    • Facebook has various groups for job matching locums and clinics
    • General job boards – such as LinkedIn
    • Medical job postings on national, provincial, or regional websites
    • Your website is a great, often underappreciated, method of advertising
  • Offline methods are less common nowadays but include
    • Print ads and classifieds – these may have limited reach
    • Mailing previous locums or various networks
  • In-Person
    • Hiring fairs, including those for new grads, can help build relationships with potential locums and physicians
    • Conferences like Pri-Med, St Paul’s and FMF, are also options

Tip: Don’t be afraid to leverage your network

“Physicians recruit physicians” is a common sentiment. That’s because it’s true! 

Happy physicians are a great way to find and recruit new physicians. Whether they directly reach out to their friends or colleagues. Or by engaging in discussions on Facebook, LinkedIn or The Rounds, your existing doctors can be a great representative for your clinic. 

Offering a finder’s bonus when a physician or locum doctor is successfully onboarded is another tip from Dr. Vollrath. This should reward physicians for finding a great fit for your clinic, usually paid during or after a successful locum.

The emphasis here should be on happy physicians! Ensuring your current physicians and potential locum doctors are content is not just a great way to improve recruitment, it also plays a huge role in retention.

Cherry Health: Canada’s Largest Locum Doctor Network

There is now a new way of searching for physicians and locum doctors, an application developed by Dr. Vollrath called Cherry Health. The app aims to build a national physician career network, creating the most comprehensive index of medical careers in Canada.

For clinics, complete your clinic profile to create a listing. Or search for a locum from the thousands of registered physicians

The app experience is quick and comprehensive, allowing you to directly message locum doctors and view their profiles and work histories to find the right match.

Cherry Health is free and available on the App Store and Google Play

Looking for more locum doctor & physician recruiting resources?

If you’re looking for more resources, check out our comprehensive guide to locum doctor and physician recruitment resources.

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