Dealing with Provider Shortages? Locum Tenens May Be the Solution
For healthcare professionals, physician shortages and lengthy recruitment cycles have become the unfortunate norm. At the same time, physicians’ career paths are changing under the influences of numerous factors, like hospital mergers and acquisitions, an aging population, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The demands on physicians are greater than ever, so it’s no mystery why career burnout causes some physicians to retire early or change careers altogether.
Currently, the biggest shortages are in primary care and behavioral health, and by the year 2025, the shortage of primary care physicians could be in excess of 30,000. Locum tenens physicians, along with locum tenens nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are helping healthcare systems nationwide deal effectively with provider shortages.
Locum Tenens Physician Jobs
Internal medicine specialists as well as hospitalists are in demand everywhere, all the time. Demand is particularly acute in rural hospitals and small towns, and hiring permanent physicians can take a long time. Locum tenens physician jobs often bridge these provider gaps, allowing healthcare systems to offer continuity of care while increasing their permanent staffing unhurriedly.
Only a few years ago, retirees made up a large proportion of locum tenens physicians. But today, residents make up an increasing percentage of them. The younger adult generation (Millennials) have different work attitudes than their elders, and many of them want to travel and practice medicine while balancing their work and non-work lives in ways that traditional physician jobs don’t allow. Locum tenens jobs can be perfect for these young professionals, and in fact nearly 10% of doctors choose locum tenens as their career path.
There are over 200,000 nurse practitioners in the United States, and the overwhelming majority of them are trained in primary care. This is great news because NPs may be one key to overcoming the shortage of primary care physicians. In fact, NPs trained in primary care are among the most requested by organizations that use locum tenens providers.
Patient outcomes with NPs are as good as outcomes with regular physicians, and in many states, NPs can do things like prescribe medications, diagnose illnesses, and treat patients without physician oversight. Hiring locum tenens NPs can be an efficient and effective method of relieving provider shortages and helping patients maintain continuity of care.
Physician assistants can be hired as locum tenens providers, helping practices maximize resources.
Unlike NPs, physician assistants (PAs) may start out as EMTs, paramedics, or other types of healthcare providers. Most PA programs are master’s degree programs, and all must meet the requirements of the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). PAs are generalists, even when they work in practices or clinics specializing in areas like oncology, emergency medicine, or OBGYN. When operating within a specialty, the PA is a generalist, and is used to complement specialist services rather than duplicate them.
PAs work with physicians, and in some rural or underserved regions, they may be primary care providers while still ultimately reporting to a physician. Locum tenens jobs for PAs can allow healthcare providers to serve more patients and to fill in service gaps during the process of hiring permanent clinicians.
How These Healthcare Professionals Benefit
Physicians, NPs, and PAs may choose to have a locum tenens career for many reasons, and they can benefit from such a career in many ways, such as:
• More control over the number of hours they work
• The ability to travel to different regions to work
• The opportunity to provide healthcare in a variety of settings
• The chance to learn multiple care models
• Better ability to balance work and family needs
Some physicians also moonlight as locum tenens physicians to increase their income, while other physicians who are getting closer to retirement change to locum tenens jobs to wind down their careers more gradually than traditional retirement allows.
Locum tenens jobs benefit both those who work in this capacity and the healthcare systems that employ them, helping patients enjoy continuity of care and making the permanent hiring process less stressful for providers. We invite you to schedule a consultation to discuss your hiring needs and how locum tenens physicians, NPs, and PAs can help.