Requests for Locum Tenens NPs Nearly Tripled Last Year

Locum Tenens on the Rise

In 2012, 4.8 percent of healthcare facility managers had used temporary NPs over the last 12 months, but by 2014, that number rose to 12.35 percent. Specialty nursing fields are in demand, too, with demand for certified registered nurse anesthetists rising from 2.8 percent in 2012 to 6.47 percent in 2013. Usage of physician assistants rose, too, from 4.7 percent in 2012 to 7 percent in 2013.

And the numbers should continue to rise. According to the report, 16 percent of medical facility managers say they will add more temporary NPs and PAs in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and 15 percent of the facilities polled say they are currently seeking locum tenens NPs.

Nurse practitioners were the sixth most commonly used locum tenens after primary care, behavioral health, hospitalist, emergency medicine and surgery.

Locum tenens positions have been on the rise for awhile. In 2002, there were about 26,000 physicians working in temporary assignments. Today, there are about 40,000. NPs and PAs make up almost 26 percent of that total.

This is the second year that NPs and PAs were included in the survey, now in its 11th year.

The report attributes the growing demand for locum tenens NPs and PAs to difficulties in recruiting physicians, as well as reimbursement difficulties in light of healthcare reforms. NPs and PAs can perform many physicians services at lower costs, but with many facilities unable to recruit NPs and PAs fast enough, locum tenens workers offer interim coverage.

Though the number of NP and PA education programs is expected to grow by three to five percent each year, the report cites a prediction by physician supply expert Richard Cooper of the University of Pennsylvania that there will still be a 20 percent deficit of NPs and PAs by 2025. Staff Care notes in its report that it normally received a “minimal” number of NP and PA requests, but those requests now account for 12 percent of all temporary days requested.

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