One of the supreme advantages of locum tenens employment opportunities is the variety: From small-town clinics to big-city medical centers, chances are great that you'll find a position in your specialty in the area where you want to be.
However, it's the first of those settings — the small-town clinics and community centers — that are particularly in need of locums professionals. For those physicians, PAs and NPs looking for new locum tenens career opportunities, community health center employment offers unique career benefits, not the least of which is the fulfillment of helping provide crucial care for a community in need.
Calling the shortage of physicians in rural communities "persistent" and "intractable," the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) bluntly asserts in a 2014 position paper that "rural communities in America need more physicians."
"Sparse population, extreme poverty, high proportions of racial and ethnic minorities, and lack of physical and cultural amenities characterize rural communities most likely to suffer from a shortage of physicians," the authors add.
'Majority' of FQHCs Report Physician Shortages
Today, a lack of physicians combined with the influx of a new patients thanks to the Affordable Care Act, has shone a spotlight on the increased need for employees and practitioners to work in the nation's federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).
FQHCs "are located in areas where care is needed but scarce, and improve access to care for millions of Americans regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay," explained Staff Care's Kelsey Boes in a recent Locum Link Blog entry.
"As a result, nearly all of their patients are low income, with over 72 percent of patients having a family income at or below the poverty line. Nearly half of FQHC patients reside in rural areas, while the other half live in low-income areas in inner city communities."
"The majority of FQHCs reported shortages of primary care doctors (56%), especially bilingual physicians (60%)," according to The Commonwealth Fund 2013 Survey of Federally Qualified Health Centers. "Health centers are engaged in activities to meet the needs of new patients, with 53 percent pursuing integration of behavioral health and 31 percent hiring additional clinical staff."
"In the survey, nearly three-quarters of health center leaders said they anticipate problems stemming from the large number of patients expected as millions gain coverage through Medicaid expansion and the new health insurance marketplaces," the survey authors write. "Most respondents anticipate personnel shortages, with 83 percent believing physician supply will be a problem and 73 percent believing nurse practitioner and physician assistant supply will be a problem."
Delve Deeper: Get more details on the nation's physician shortage here.
Community Health Center Employment Opportunities from Coast to Coast
As a proud supporter of National Health Center Week and the organizer of the annual Country Doctor Award, which recognizes the incredible contributions made by hard-working physicians who choose to serve the nation's rural communities, Staff Care is committed to helping the nation's community health centers achieve optimal staffing in the face of these increased shortages.
And locum tenens community center employment in small cities or rural areas can help you meet this need. For those willing to travel, locum tenens assignments offer a great way to experience different facilities and settings in locations across the country. Working locum tenens assignments is also a great way to maintain career momentum during periods of transition, or to build valuable career experience without committing to a long-term physician contract. Locums assignments are also often pursued by physicians seeking a more flexible, stress-free career path. Read more about the benefits of locum tenens employment here.
"With most locum tenens assignments, physicians are offering assistance to areas with a serious shortage of physicians and a deficit in the delivery of healthcare to patients," Kelsey writes. "Many locum tenens physicians find this aspect to be the most rewarding when working assignments, as they can see the direct impact their work has on a community."
Interested in an adventure in community health employment? Check out the Locums Link Blog's Tales from the Road for articles about locum tenens tales ranging from Alaska and Arizona, California to New York, and many points in between.
Of course, community center employment opportunities aren't limited to rural areas. Locum tenens professionals are increasingly in need at community health centers in towns and communities nationwide, including mid-size cities and suburban areas. Depending on where you live, you may be able to work a community health center assignment within your current range of commuting.
Because we're dedicated to helping ensure the nation's rural and/or underserved communities achieve optimal healthcare representation, Staff Care is pleased to offer a range of community health center employment opportunities in every corner of the United States. If you're interested in helping us meet this goal, please contact your Staff Care recruiter for a thorough exploration of opportunities that suit your personal and professional priorities, or contact us directly here. You'll also find a wealth of rural and community health center employment opportunities on our locum tenens job search page — updated every hour of the day.
Do you know other doctors, PAs or PAs interested in community health center employment? Please share this article with your social networks! And don't forget to join Staff Care on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and YouTube. And if you're looking to create a new True Locum Story, search for locum tenens jobs in your specialty here.