Close to three quarters (71%) of locum tenens physicians and other advanced practice healthcare professionals working on a temporary basis have treated Covid-19 patients, according to a new survey, suggesting that locum tenens practitioners have played an important role in providing care during the pandemic.
Conducted by Staff Care, a national physician staffing firm and a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN), the 2021 Survey of Locum Tenens Providers examines the practice patterns and preferences of locum tenens physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). Healthcare providers who work as locum tenens (Latin for “to hold a place”) fill temporary assignments that may last from one day to over one year.
According to the survey, most locum tenens providers were not deterred by Covid-19 from taking temporary assignments. Only 5% said they stopped working temporary assignments due to the virus, while 22% reduced the number of assignments they accepted. However, the majority (55%) said the virus did not cause them to change the number of temporary assignments they accepted, while 18% said they increased the number of temporary assignments they accepted as a result of the virus.
“Locum tenens physicians and other locum tenens providers have been widely used for years to fill gaps caused a shortage of healthcare professionals,” said Jeff Decker, President of Staff Care. “Having a mobile resource of providers that healthcare facilities can draw on can be particularly useful when healthcare challenges spike, as they have with Covid-19.”
Freedom and Flexibility
The majority of providers surveyed (81%) identified freedom and flexibility as the primary benefit of locum tenens work, followed by per diem pay rates (55%) and the opportunity to travel (50%). Ninety percent indicated that locum tenens is as satisfying or more satisfying than permanent practice, while only 10% said it is less satisfying.
“Many physicians and other providers are burned out by the administrative and reimbursement hassles that come with medical practice today,” Decker said. “Locum tenens allows for a comparative degree of freedom and the ability to focus on treating patients, which is what healthcare providers enjoy the most.”
Though locum tenens physicians and other locum tenens providers were once an anomaly at hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare facilities, they are common today, according to Decker. Staff Care estimates that approximately 52,000 physicians work as locum tenens during the course of a year. The great majority of those surveyed indicated that they are accepted at the temporary assignments they work. Ninety percent said they are accepted by colleagues, 82% said they are accepted by administrators, and 96% said they are accepted by patients.
More NPs and PAs Working Locum Tenens
While physicians have been working on a locum tenens basis for many years, the survey suggests more NPs and PAs also are working as locums. Sixteen percent of providers who responded to the survey were either NPs or PAs, up from 8% in 2016. According to Decker, the growing number of NPs and PAs working as locums indicates shortages may be developing in these professions.
“As we have seen with nurses and physicians, when shortages occur temporary providers are used to fill gaps,” Decker said. “This is now happening with NPs, PAs and other advanced practice professionals.”
Staff Care’s 2021 Survey of Locum Tenens Providers was emailed in March to physicians and advanced practice professionals known to have worked as locum tenens in the previous 12 months. Data is based on 672 responses. For complete results of the survey call 800-685-2272 or access https://www.staffcare.com/2021-survey-of-temporary-physician-staffing-trends/.
About Staff Care
Staff Care is a leading healthcare staffing firm providing locum tenens physicians, advanced practitioners and dentists to hospitals, medical groups, government facilities, and other healthcare organizations nationwide. Staff Care is a company of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN). For more information about Staff Care, visit www.staffcare.com.
About AMN Healthcare
AMN Healthcare is the leader and innovator in total talent solutions for healthcare organizations across the nation. The Company provides access to the most comprehensive network of quality healthcare professionals through its innovative recruitment strategies and breadth of career opportunities. With insights and expertise, AMN Healthcare helps providers optimize their workforce to successfully reduce complexity, increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes. AMN total talent solutions include managed services programs, clinical and interim healthcare leaders, temporary staffing, executive search solutions, vendor management systems, recruitment process outsourcing, predictive modeling, language interpretation services, revenue cycle solutions, credentialing and other services. Clients include acute-care hospitals, community health centers and clinics, physician practice groups, retail and urgent care centers, home health facilities, schools and many other healthcare settings. AMN Healthcare is committed to fostering and maintaining a diverse team that reflects the communities we serve. Our commitment to the inclusion of many different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables our innovation and leadership in the healthcare services industry. For more information about AMN Healthcare, visit www.amnhealthcare.com.