Why the Growth of Urgent Care is Opening More Locum Tenens Opportunities
Urgent care is one of the fastest-growing sectors of U.S. healthcare. There are nearly 7,400 urgent care centers in the United States, with 300–600 standalone centers opening each year. More than 20,000 physicians staff these centers. As the number of urgent care centers rapidly expands, the need for physicians to work in this sector become more intense. Moreover, the urgent care market now exceeds $15 billion, growing over 4% per year. Simply put, the growth of urgent care is creating exceptional opportunities for physicians.
Growth is outstripping physician supply
Market considerations drive the rapid expansion of urgent care centers. Stand-alone urgent care centers and, increasingly, retail clinics are being built in areas that are economically attractive, with adequate population density and relative wealth. For example, most of the growth (about 82%) is occurring in suburban areas in the Midwest and the Sun Belt. What is generally not considered is the availability of physicians to staff the centers. The urgent care franchise mantra of “Build it and they will come,” apparently applies to patients and physicians. This creates a shortage of urgent care physicians in many regions of the U.S.
Locum tenens fills a critical staffing gap in urgent care staffing
Of course, each urgent care center will usually be able to generate a core staff of physicians and advanced care practitioners. However, this core staff is often inadequate to serve the needs of the patient population in that respective area. Indeed, if the urgent care center offers after-hours care or even 24/7 coverage, there will be staffing shortfalls. As such, urgent care centers draw heavily on locum tenens physicians to fill these gaps.
Urgent care locum tenens physicians benefit from high demand and low supply
Given these conditions, it is fairly obvious how urgent care locum tenens physicians stand to benefit from this opportunity. The rapid growth of urgent care center coverage, coupled with multi-billion-dollar market share in an area without adequate physician coverage, means that locum tenens physicians are in an excellent bargaining position. Not only will urgent care centers clamor for qualified candidates, making the on-boarding process as painless as possible, they will be willing to pay top dollar to attract talent. On the other hand, locum tenens physicians can opt for predictable shifts and favorable administrative workloads that they would not be able to command in other venues (e.g. emergency departments or primary care clinics, respectively).
If you have been considering working as an urgent care physician or have contemplated locum tenens work, contact the experienced team at NEXTLocums to learn more about these opportunities.