Growing shortages fuel demand for temps
By Phillip Miller, Staff Care
Hospitals, medical groups, and other health care facilities which for years have utilized physicians as locum tenens, now are also turning to temporary physician assistants and nurse practitioners to fill gaps on their medical staffs, a new survey suggests.
The survey, conducted by Staff Care, a national temporary healthcare staffing firm and a company of AMN Healthcare, polls hospital and medical group managers about their use of temporary clinicians and includes data on the types of clinicians healthcare facilities use on a temporary basis. The survey indicates that requests for temporary PAs and NPs received by Staff Care grew from less than two percent of all requests in 2010 to ten percent of all requests in 2012. The rise in requests for temporary PAs and NPs reflects a national shortage of both these types of clinicians and of physicians, Staff Care executives said.
According to Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are turning to temporary PAs and NPs when they cannot fill permanent positions. In some cases, these same facilities are seeking PAs and NPs to supplement their physician staffs, which also have openings that are hard to fill, Ebner said.
“There are not enough PAs and NPs to make up for provider shortages in primary care and other areas,” Ebner said. “Today, both advanced practitioners such as PAs and NPs and physicians are in short supply.”
The majority of healthcare facility managers surveyed (74 percent) said their facilities had used temporary physicians or advanced practitioners sometime in the last 12 months. Of these, 35 percent had used temporary primary care physicians, 31 percent had used temporary behavioral health professionals, 12 percent had used temporary surgeons, and ten percent had used temporary PAs or NPs. The survey also indicates that many healthcare facilities are seeking to extend their clinical workforce through the use of telemedicine. Forty-three percent of healthcare facility managers said their facilities had integrated telemedicine into a least one of their departments. Of these, 42 percent have integrated telemedicine into radiology, 38 percent into behavioral health, and 24 percent into primary care. “Telemedicine is one way to bring the work to physicians when you can’t bring physicians to the work,” Ebner said.
Included in the survey is a poll of physicians who work on a temporary basis. The survey indicates that the primary reason physicians work as locum tenens is for freedom and flexibility. “Temporary practice is an increasingly popular alternative for many doctors who are tired of the bureaucratic and other restrictions they face today,” Ebner says. “It reduces the hassles and allows doctors to do what they do best, which is to provide superior patient care.”
Complete results of Staff Care’s 2013 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends can be accessed at www.staffcare.com.