Healthcare administrators are reporting virtually unprecedented use of locum tenens physicians and professional staff in the first half of 2017. An impressive 94% of healthcare managers have employed locum tenens physicians within the last year, and especially within the last six months. This is up from 74% just five years ago (according to NALTO). With locum tenens utilization rates nearing 95%, it is safe to say a physician who is seeking a locum tenens position will be able to find one, regardless of specialty. However, managers are having particular difficulty filling positions in certain locum tenens specialties, specifically:
- Internal medicine
- Family medicine
- General surgery
For Locum Tenens, Not All Specialties are the Same
Providers in these specialties are consistently in demand, but the need has increased substantially over the last 12 to 36 months.
Under normal circumstances, locum tenens appointments are attractive to physicians for several reasons: freedom to travel, no long-term obligations, less risk of burnout, etc. However, for physicians who practice in these in-demand locum tenens specialties, the opportunity to be even more selective than usual when accepting a locum tenens position is the current reality.
Increased demand on the part of hiring managers can translate into favorable terms for these physicians. While it may not be possible to command higher rates of pay (though that is a distinct possibility), locum tenens in these specialties can often be choosier when it comes to location, venue, and to some extent, duration of their appointment.
Need for Locum Tenens Extends Beyond Specialty to Venue
As you might expect, the demand for locum tenens practitioners mirrors the areas where doctor shortages exist. Not surprisingly, rural healthcare settings need locum tenens providers just as they need long-term or permanent medical professionals. If a region has trouble attracting talent to an area, chances are they will also have trouble attracting locum tenens. Viewed another way, this creates many fantastic opportunities to “try out” a rural position before committing to a long-term post.
Another sector that has difficulty attracting physicians—as staff members or as locum tenens providers—is behavioral health care. Locum tenens provides a way for mental health professionals to temporarily experience professional life in a government facility setting.
Lastly, urgent care facilities need locum tenens providers more than ever. This does not necessarily extend to emergency physicians (though those physicians are needed, too) but rather to internists and family practice doctors who can provide non-emergent but also not necessarily chronic care. Essentially, the role is for primary care providers to manage urgent (and properly triaging emergent) medical conditions. For physicians with a greater interest in providing acute diagnoses and interventions than managing chronic diseases, these locum tenens opportunities can be particularly attractive.
If you are considering utilizing locum tenens in your healthcare facility—especially in one of the aforementioned, in-demand specialties of practice—contact the locum tenens experts at NEXTlocums to find the professional that fits your needs today. Our unique approach delivers distinct medical talent, giving us the advantage when it comes to hard-to-fill roles.