Throughout the country, healthcare organizations are turning to locum tenens physicians to meet their patient care requirements. A recent report from Staffing Industry Analysts, forecasts the market for temporary physician staffing will increase about 7 percent this year and reach the $2.1 billion level. All Medical Personnel’s dedicated locum tenens staffing team has seen a comparable increase in assignments during the first four months of 2012.
There are several forces driving the increased demand for locum tenens physicians, including a shortage of full-time medical professionals in a growing number of locations around the nation. While physician assistants, nurses and other “physician extenders” can pick up some of the burden of care, an M.D. or D.O. is still needed to supervise their work, diagnose complex conditions and prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
In 2012, the demand for locum tenens physicians would likely be even higher, if the U.S. economy were in a full-scale recovery mode. That’s because many potential patients, concerned about costs, are postponing doctor visits and elective surgery. In some cases they are also waiting for the Affordable Care Act’s access- and insurance-related provisions to kick in, although the U.S. Supreme Court is now considering the constitutional issues related to that 2010 act.
For clinics, community hospitals, and regional healthcare systems, locum tenens staffing provides a flexible approach to physician coverage. For instance, primary care physicians and specialists can be hired to meet a seasonal peak in demand during the summer months or used as “fill ins” for doctors who are taking their own vacations. In any case, locum tenens staffing is expected to play a growing role in patient care for at least the remainder of the decade.