Locum Tenens Jobs Continue Growth Trends

Faced with rising demand for services and increasing physician shortages in both primary and specialty care, healthcare leaders are increasingly turning to locum tenens professionals to meet their staffing needs. Hiring locums helps employers ensure continuity of care with flexible staffing solutions.

Physicians and advanced practitioners are also finding locum tenens assignments provide welcome flexibility and valuable career experience. The locum lifestyle allows them to travel (or not), work part-time or full-time, and choose where and when they want to work.

Recent trends indicate that both parties can expect to see continued growth in the number of locum tenens opportunities in the United States.


Why more employers are using locums 

“Many healthcare organizations are making greater use of locum tenens physicians today than in the past,” said Kurt Mosley, vice president of strategic alliances for Staff Care and Merritt Hawkins, companies of AMN Healthcare. Mosley made his comments during a recent AMN webinar on locum tenens staffing and employment.

“It used to be that temporary physicians were regarded simply as a quick fix for staffing holes,’ he continued. “Nowadays, they’ve become a strategic piece of the staffing mix to ensure uninterrupted care quality.”

In addition to the issues with physician supply and demand, Mosley explained that changing reimbursement structures tied to patient satisfaction and other value-based measurements are putting additional pressure on healthcare employers. They simply can’t afford to have vacancies.

“Physician vacancies can lead to delays in treatment, long waiting times, and even physician burnout,” Mosley said. “Locum tenens physicians are experienced doctors who can step in and provide quality care during staffing vacancies. Most healthcare organizations regard them as welcome and much-needed additions to their staff.”

Citing data from the 2017 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends conducted by Staff Care, Mosley pointed out that the use of locum tenens physicians has significantly increased over the last few years. When health care facilities were asked about their use of temporary staffing, 96 percent replied that they had used locum tenens physicians or advanced practitioners within the previous 12 months, up from 90 percent in 2013.

The top five reasons that healthcare organizations cited for using locum tenens, included to:

  • Fill in until a permanent doctor is found: 75%
  • Fill in for staff who have left: 74%
  • Cover during vacation/CME training: 39%
  • Meet rising patient demand: 13.7%
  • Fill in during peak usage times: 10.7%

  • Mosley noted that administrators also appreciate leaving the recruitment duties to locum tenens agencies like Staff Care, who provide carefully selected, pre-screened candidates for the healthcare organization’s consideration. Agency staff also handle licensing and credentialing checks, malpractice insurance, paychecks, as well as housing and other logistics.

    Why clinicians are choosing locum tenens

    As practice patterns continue evolving, today’s physicians and advanced practitioners have more options than ever. Mosley pointed out that flexibility has continued to outweigh pay and travel when physicians and advanced practitioners are choosing locum assignments; in fact it has topped the list of benefits since Staff Care first conducted this survey in 2011.

    In the latest survey, clinicians cited the following as the chief benefits of working locum tenens (they could check multiple answers):

  • Freedom/flexibility: 89%
  • Pay rate: 50%
  • No politics: 40%
  • Travel: 46%
  • Professional development: 24%
  • A way to find a permanent position: 16%

  • The survey also found that 79% of those who have worked locums say that they find locum tenens work as satisfying, or more satisfying, than permanent practice.

    RELATED: 9 Reasons to Try Locum Tenens This Year

    Locum tenens specialties in demand

    Family medicine and internal medicine continue to top the list of most common locum tenens opportunities, but locum jobs can be found in nearly every healthcare setting and specialty. Mosley noted that the demand for various locum specialties can fluctuate depending on changes in the healthcare market.

    The 2017 survey of employers found their top five areas of usage for locum tenens physicians included:

  • Primary care: 43.5%
  • Hospital medicine: 25.3%
  • Behavioral health: 23.1%
  • Emergency medicine: 17.2%
  • Urgent care: 14.5%

  • The use of advanced practitioners has also been growing, with 15.6% of facilities reporting they had used locum nurse practitioners and 10.8% reporting they had used locum physician assistants during the previous 12 months.

    Download AMN’s webinar, Have Stethoscope, Will Travel, to learn more about the latest trends in locum tenens. Registration is free.

    STAFF CARE places physicians and advanced practitioners in part-time and full-time locum tenens jobs across the country. Contact us to take the next step.




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