By Joe Buckley Jun 12, 2014
Whatever you think of the current challenges the Veterans Administration is facing there is one thing I believe almost everyone can agree on: our veterans deserve timely access to care.
Given the crisis at the VA, it is clear more locum tenens and permanent physicians will be needed to reduce appointment wait times. This will be a challenge, because long waiting times are not just a problem for the VA but are prevalent in many private sector markets as well.
The average wait time in all 15 markets for a new patient to see a family physician was 19.5 days — close to three weeks based on 2014 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicaid and Medicare Acceptance Rates published by Staff Care’s sister company, Merritt Hawkins. That is longer than the VA’s target wait time of 14 days or less for veterans to see a primary care doctor. Patients in Boston, the city with the longest average wait times to see a family physician (66 days), experience wait times far beyond the VA’s 14-day goal.
This is not to suggest that the VA is free of serious challenges or that the extended wait times some veterans are facing are acceptable. It is merely to indicate that physician shortages, and the wait times they cause, are a national issue that should resonate beyond the walls of the VA.
Fortunately, there are many doctors who are able to moonlight, or who may be working part-time or are semi-retired, who can help by working as locum tenens at VA facilities. If you are a physician who has thought about providing care for the nation’s veterans, now is a good time explore this style of practice.
Working through locum tenens companies such as Staff Care allows physicians to choose from a variety of VA settings. In addition, staffing companies make the process easier by providing paid transportation, paid lodging, complete logistical support and competitive per diem rates.
If you would like to experience for yourself the rewards and challenges of caring for military veterans, click here and submit your application to have one of our recruiters contact you.
Joe Buckley is a Divisional Vice President of Staff Care, the nation’s leading locum tenens staffing firm and a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AHS). If you have questions regarding this article, Joe can be reached at email@example.com. Join the discussion on this topic and more in our LinkedIn group, Staff Care Locum Tenens Networking Community.