Analyzing the survey's results from 2009, one year before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, is eye-opening. For example, back then, the main reason hospitals used locum tenens physicians was to fill in for staff who were vacationing or on leave for continuing education.
That is now the number three reason hospitals use a locum tenens physician. Back in 2009, the third most popular reason for hiring a locum tenens doc was to test market a new service. That reason has all but disappeared today.
Today the main reason for using locum tenens is to fill in for staff who have left an organization or to fill in until permanent doctor is found.
Stefan Trocme, MD, a 58-year old cornea specialist who retired as a tenured professor from Case Western Reserve University, has been filling in as a locum tenens for about a year, says the instability in healthcare is driving not only the need for more locum tenens, but also filling a pipeline with experienced physicians who still want to contribute to medicine.
"I have something I never had in my professional career—control over my time," says Trocme. "You were very limited in the amount of time you could spend away from work. And, having worked in academics, office politics took way too much time. As a free agent and entrepreneur, you are not so embroiled in all that.