By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Jul 26, 2021
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the field of radiology was
booming, and Staff Care reported a 235 percent increase in requests for locum radiologists over a five year
period. But things changed in 2020 due to the emergency declarations and many
hospitals and practices delaying non-urgent procedures. Even when schedules
opened up, many patients were hesitant to come in for normal screenings.
Now, as the healthcare industry rebounds from the worst
of the COVID-19 pandemic, radiologist jobs are once again plentiful, including
specialty positions in mammography, interventional radiology and diagnostic
“Demand in radiology has picked up,” said Patrick
Fort, senior principal consultant at Staff Care,
an AMN Healthcare company that specializes in locum tenens assignments for
physicians and advanced practitioners. “There’s a backlog of patients who did
not go in for their normal routine [healthcare] through COVID-19.” The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention reported
in June 2021 that mammography screenings decreased 87 percent during April
2020 as compared to the previous five-year averages for that month, which has
led to “delayed diagnoses and poor health consequences.”
Tracking demand in
“Women did not get their annual screenings, which
turns into diagnostics, which turns into procedures,” Fort said. “Our clients
do not have the resources to meet that demand.”
Group practices re-evaluated staffing during
the pandemic, and some let part-time radiologists go or cut shifts, Fort said.
Some radiologists retired early.
These trends, combined with an established
shortage of physicians, have led to more locum tenens radiologist jobs in
regions across the country.
The permanent radiology jobs market also
remains strong. The Merritt Hawkins 2021 Review of Physician and
Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives
reported that radiology remains one of the top five requested specialties from
their healthcare clients, coming in third this year. Some radiologist jobs are offering
healthy signing bonuses, with income for full-time positions averaging just
over $400,000 in 2020-2021.
“A lot of doctors who are looking for a
change now have options,” Fort said.
Radiologists between permanent positions are
likely to travel as a locum tenens, so they can check out different locations and
practices without making a commitment. “Some of them work locums to find that
right next job,” Fort said.
Others are simply looking for a temporary work
solution and a change of perspective while they consider their long-term
options. “Many are in transition from one job to another,” he added. “They may
like to travel between positions.”
Another factor in the strong demand for
radiologists is due to medical students opting to go into other fields, Fort
Since many people put off elective
procedures, the current demand for radiologists is especially strong in
mammography and breast imaging, and in interventional radiology. More reimbursement
is earned on procedures than on chest scans to assess for COVID-19 in the
emergency department. With electives on hold during COVID-19, radiologists’ incomes
declined. Locum tenens positions offer an opportunity to regain those earnings.
Thinking of a
locum tenens radiologist job?
Locum tenens radiologists practice in
hospitals, group practices and outpatient imaging centers. The bulk of locum radiology jobs are used to cover vacations or other short-term leaves of absence,
while some assignments may last longer as a practice or hospital continues to
search for a permanent physician.
In addition to those who work as a locum
between permanent jobs, many radiologists choose locum work after retiring from
a full-time position. They like to keep their skills up but enjoy the freedom
and flexibility to work when and how often they want.
Some locum radiologists accept part-time assignments
on their days off from a permanent position. Other physicians will work locum
tenens assignments full time, floating among a number of clients.
“We can keep you as busy as you want,” Fort
The client determines the pay rate, but with
the strong demand right now, locum radiologists can earn more than $200 per
hour, depending on the skill set, location and the work performed.
Experience with PACS and voice recognition
systems is expected for locum radiologists. Teleradiology opportunities also
exist, with many clients using such services.
Staff Care’s team will help radiologists
secure a medical license in the state where the locum opportunity is located,
and assist with credentialing, housing and more. Licensure can take 8–10 weeks.
States that participate in the Interstate
Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) can streamline the licensure process.
With demand for radiologists high, now is a
great time to try locum tenens and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the
Radiology Supply, Demand and
Locum Tenens Staffing Trends – 2020 White Paper
STAFF CARE has hundreds of locum
throughout the U.S.
Contact a Recruiter Now