National physician survey reveals greater locum tenens growth
The Association of American Medical Colleges and the Medical Group Management Association are estimating the physician shortage will continue to increase exponentially over the next decade, making it more difficult for facilities to fill needed positions. But a new, nationwide survey being released by Weatherby Healthcare reveals some positive trends.
Current data indicate there will be a deficit of 125,000 providers in America by 2025. That’s a staggering number, but the national study points to a growing percentage of physicians who are mitigating the impact of the shortage by completing locum tenens assignments. The survey, conducted this spring by Wakefield Research on behalf of Weatherby Healthcare’s parent company, CHG Healthcare Services, queried 1,000 physicians from across the country. Providers were polled on multiple topics, including whether they are now working locum tenens, have previously done so, why they have or haven’t worked in the industry, and whether or not they anticipate taking locum tenens assignments in the future.
Of the 1,000 physicians responding to the Wakefield survey, roughly 25 percent either currently take or have accepted locum tenens assignments. In addition, three out of four providers responding said they are considering locum tenens opportunities in the future.
The physician shortage is expected to be compounded by the predicted 30 million new patients flooding the market in 2014 due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. That being said, according to Pat Kennedy, president of Weatherby Healthcare—one of the largest locum tenens staffing companies in the U.S.—the influx of providers working locum tenens assignments is a vast relief to the healthcare industry overall.
“The gap in coverage for patients who desperately need care is a concern we all share,” says Kennedy. “But this new data showing an increase in the number of physicians working locum tenens should alleviate some of the concern. Medical professionals who accept temporary placements to fill the voids in a variety of clinical settings are indispensable. In today’s world, locum tenens has become the proven, long-term solution to ensuring positive patient outcomes.”
Weatherby Healthcare is encouraging facilities feeling the sting of the physician shortage to turn more frequently to the locum tenens solution. “Nationwide, there are thousands of qualified providers ready to fill the gaps,” Kennedy adds. “For Weatherby Healthcare, partnering with a hospital, clinic, group practice or private practice to help ensure patient needs are met drives us. Through our signature Red Ribbon Service—which is woven into the very fabric of our culture—we are committed to helping facilities assure the continuity of superior patient care.”