Survey: Growing Number of Younger Physicians Working as Locum Tenens
91% of Healthcare Facilities Used Locum Tenens Physicians in 2014
Contact: Phillip Miller/(469) 524-1420
IRVING, Texas – A growing number of younger physicians just out of training are practicing on a temporary (i.e., locum tenens) basis, according to a new survey, underlining one way in which medical practice patterns are changing.
Conducted by Staff Care, a national healthcare staffing firm and a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AHS), the annual survey polled 2,087 physicians who work as locum tenens, filling in temporarily for hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare facilities that have gaps in their medical staffs. Twenty-one percent of physicians surveyed said they began working as locum tenens right after completing their training, up from 16 percent in 2013 and 14 percent in 2012.
“Newly trained doctors are seeking alternatives to traditional private practice, and locum tenens offers them an avenue to explore these alternatives,” said Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care. “It’s a way to ‘test drive’ a practice before they buy.”
Locum tenens is one of a variety of emerging practice styles physicians are embracing, Ebner notes. Others include employment by a hospital or large group, part-time practice, administrative-only practice and concierge practice. According to a national survey of physicians conducted by The Physicians Foundation, 46 percent of doctors plan to change their practice styles in the next one to three years, and 9.1 percent plan to work locum tenens. Some 44,000 physicians nationwide now practice on a locum tenens basis, Staff Care estimates, up from 26,000 12 years ago, representing about 6 percent of the physician workforce. Locum tenens physicians can work temporary assignments ranging from one day to over one year, Ebner said, focusing on patient care rather than on billing and other bureaucratic duties.
The Staff Care survey also included responses from 259 healthcare facility managers regarding their use of locum tenens physicians. Ninety-one percent of respondents indicated they had used a locum tenens physician at least once in the last 12 months, while 42 percent said they currently are looking for one or more locum tenens physicians. Primary care physicians are in the most demand as locum tenens, according to the survey, followed by psychiatrists and other behavioral health specialists, and hospitalists.
The survey suggests that demand also is growing for temporary non-physician clinicians such as nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). In 2012, only 4.8 percent of healthcare facility managers surveyed by Staff Care reported they had used locum tenens NPs in the previous 12 months. In 2014, that number rose to 17.4 percent. The number of healthcare facility managers who reported they had used locum tenens PAs rose from 4.7 percent in 2012 to 7.6 percent in 2013.
“The increased use of locum tenens NPs and PAs is one predictor that shortages are emerging in these areas,” Ebner said. “An aging population, and one that is more likely to be insured, is driving demand for both physicians and advanced practitioners.”
For complete results of Staff Care’s 2015 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, please contact us at (800) 685-2272.
About Staff Care
Staff Care (www.staffcare.com) is the nation’s leading temporary (locum tenens) staffing company, specializing in the placement of physicians, advanced practitioners, dentists and other healthcare professionals with hospitals, medical groups, government and other healthcare facilities nationwide. Staff Care is a company of AMN Healthcare (www.amnhealthcare.com) the largest healthcare staffing organization in the United States and the nation’s innovator of healthcare workforce solutions.