Staffing Shortages Fuel Locum Tenens Needs

Dawn Pascale

Despite falling COVID-19 cases and 150 million Americans fully vaccinated, healthcare facilities continue to face severe staffing shortages.  What once used to be a short-term solution for providers that went on vacation or took sick leave, facilities are now using Locum Tenens providers to staff vacant openings that are a key part of their medical workforce. Virtually every hospital in the U.S. now uses Locum Tenens in some capacity.

Why Such an Increased Demand for Locum Tenens?

There are several trends today driving the need for increasing reliance on Locum Tenens providers:

  • Increasing numbers of elderly in the population. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older.
  • An alarming number of physicians are either retiring early, reducing their hours or simply calling it quits due to the stress of the Pandemic. 
  • A staggering number of physicians (mostly those that work in the field of Psychiatry and Primary Care) are refusing to give up their telehealth position, leaving hospitals scrambling to find providers for direct patient care. 
  • Flat growth as far as numbers of providers coming out of school.
  • Changing reimbursement tied to customer satisfaction metrics.

It’s a perfect storm of sorts; The U.S. will face a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians and at a time where the demand for healthcare is at an all-time high.  This is where locum tenens, contractors, and traveling nurses alike will need to fill in the gaps.  But be warned; there is some serious speculation that we will see a shortage of these types of providers too as the demand continues to rise.

How Can Locum Tenens Help Your Practice in the Future?

If you are part of the 7% of hospitals new to Locum Tenens or you are a smaller healthcare facility or a medical practice, here is a short list of the advantages of using Locum tenens providers to staff your openings.

  • Helping rural practices meet demand. The provider shortages we’re facing are in Psychiatry and Primary Care and specifically in acute in rural communities. It’s tougher for these facilities or practices to attract clinicians, so when healthcare professionals seek vacation or other types of time off, it leaves a hole that’s a little tougher to fill. But not with locum tenens, who can fill in during these times to ensure the consistency of care and patient satisfaction.
  • To fill in while a search is being conducted. When a key part of the healthcare staff leaves or retires, filling those shoes can takes months. Revenue and patient satisfaction can decline.  Healthcare organizations and practices can use locum tenens as part of their succession planning process. It’s in this way that these temp workers fill a key strategic role in the practice.
  • To help providers that need a break after COVID. The intensity of being on the front lines during COVID-19 was high. Many providers are struggling with burnout symptoms. For practices seeking to help these caregivers by giving them time away, locum tenens could be, literally, a lifesaver.

MedSource Consultants offers reasonable pricing for Locum Tenens staffing solutions. Talk with our team of leading healthcare recruiters to find out how we can help.