Use of Locum Tenens Up 22% in One Year

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media , March 13, 2014

Ninety percent of organizations use temporary physicians and other clinical staff, a figure one temporary staffing executive calls "incredible." And the profile of locum tenens physicians has changed: Seven in ten have two decades of experience and half are mid-career professionals, survey results show.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities have increased their use of temporary physicians significantly over last year, a new survey shows. Bonnie Britton, senior VP of Staff Care, an Irving, TX-based provider of temporary healthcare clinicians, says her firm's study results show 90% of healthcare organizations using locum tenens providers.

That's a 22% increase over the previous year, when use of locum tenens doctors was at 73.6%.

"To have 9 out 10 organizations using locum tenens—that's incredible," says Britton. "We've been doing this survey for 11 years, and we've never had these results before."

Britton attributes the growth, in part, to a "constrained" supply of physicians, and that supply is expected to continue to decline. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the physician shortage will be 131,000 by 2025, though there are already federally designated health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) across the country.

6 in 10 Physicians Would Quit Today

As of January, the federal Health Resources and Services Administration reported 6,000 primary care HPSAs and nearly 4,000 mental health HPSAs. These two categories of providers are the same ones that hospitals use locum tenens for the most.

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