Locum tenens is no longer the orphan stepchild of Western medicine. What used to be considered a medical employment outlier is now mainstream as upwards of 96% of all healthcare facilities make use of locum tenens staffing in one way or another. To say that locum tenens has finally arrived is to state the obvious.
The question many are asking is what drives the current demand for locum tenens clinicians. In truth, it’s not just one thing. The 2017 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends proves as much. Below are the top 10 things driving the locum tenens industry, according to that survey. The first five are from the employer’s perspective while the remaining five explain the clinician’s perspective.
Why Facilities Use Locums
When healthcare facilities do not have enough physicians to meet staffing needs, care is delayed. Moreover, staff members are overworked and patients are left feeling frustrated and neglected. Administrators turn to locum tenens providers to avoid this very thing.
According to the survey, here are the top five reasons cited by facilities as factors in their choice to use locums:
- Meeting Needs During Hiring – Facilities in the midst of hiring new clinicians often turn to locum tenens to keep staffing numbers adequate during the hiring process. Some might even go on to hire their locums full-time.
- Replacing Lost Staff – Healthcare facilities turn to locum tenens providers to fill holes created by staff members who leave for other opportunities.
- Vacation and Training – When clinicians need time away for vacation or training, their work is performed temporarily by locums. These types of locum opportunities tend to be shorter term as compared to the 3-6-month assignments locums are more familiar with.
- Increased Patient Demand – Facilities experiencing increased patient demand may turn to locum tenens providers to meet that demand while they assess how to move forward.
- Covering Peak Times – Lastly, there are certain times of the year when patient demand tends to increase. Locum tenens physicians are ideal for meeting those demands on a seasonal basis.
Why Doctors Choose Locum Tenens
It is clear that healthcare facilities are turning to locum providers to fill staffing holes. But why are doctors choosing locum work over private practice or employment? Here are the top five reasons according to the survey:
- Freedom and Flexibility – By and large, the number one reason cited by doctors is the freedom and flexibility locum work affords. As self-employed contractors, doctors have total control over where and when they work.
- Compensation – Locum physicians make more, on average, than their employed counterparts. Earning more without having the responsibility of being a private practice owner or an employee is rather incentivizing.
- Medicine Without Politics – Office politics are not as big a problem for locums. To be able to practice without worrying about such things makes being a doctor more enjoyable.
- Travel – Many locums get started in the industry out of a desire to combine travel with their professional lives. They appreciate the opportunity to see new places, meet new people, and try new things.
- Professional Development – Working as a locum tenens provider certainly offers opportunities for professional development. For some doctors, that is what it’s all about.
Facilities and clinicians all have their reasons for being involved in the locum tenens model. Regardless of those reasons, the one thing they all have in common is taking advantage of a different form of medical practice to meet needs that would otherwise go unmet. For that alone we owe the locum tenens industry a debt of gratitude.