Last August, the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) celebrated the first-ever National Locum Tenens Week. The healthcare staffing industry is doing so again this week, and it’s an opportunity to thank locum tenens providers for their dedication to serving millions of patients at medical facilities every day in this country.
As many as 50,000 doctors, more than 5 percent of the physician workforce, practice medicine as a locum tenens doctor in more than 90 percent of our healthcare facilities to provide care for an estimated 7.5 million Americans every year, according to a recent report.
Temporary physicians continue to serve medical facilities hardest hit by the physician shortage, now projected to reach as high as 120,000 doctors by the year 2030.
This includes rural communities most in need of both primary care doctors and physicians specializing in vital areas such as behavioral health. The shortage will also be felt in urban settings that rely on coverage for peak times of patient demand.
Locum tenens physicians, once defined by both ends of the age spectrum, are now a diverse group that includes doctors throughout all stages of their career. Employed physicians are picking up shifts to supplement their income in order to pay off debt. They’re also taking advantage of temporary positions to travel, explore new communities before relocation, and experience different types of practice settings. The higher pay also allows individuals to make a full-time career out of locum tenens assignments while maintaining better control of their schedule and potentially achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Time away from patients spent dealing with the bureaucracy that’s come with government intervention, the business of medicine, exhaustion, and baseline pay are all working to drive physicians away. However, getting back to the basics of medicine has become a major draw for locum tenens providers. Physicians are reporting that practicing locum tenens alleviates those symptoms and renews their original passion for directly helping others.
Please join us in celebrating our locum tenens physicians as part of National Locum Tenens Week.
Mike Gianas (Redemption Creative LLC) is a Dallas, Texas-based healthcare marketing consultant with the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations® (NALTO®), the only professional association of temporary physician staffing firms committed to a code of ethics and to maintaining the highest industry standards.