To say that physician staffing can be difficult today is an understatement. Staffing issues are a constant source of frustration for healthcare facilities nationwide. It can take months to find the right permanent physician for your facility, and sometimes even longer! So how do you know when or if you should consider locum tenens providers as an alternative solution for your healthcare organization?
For most hospitals, it’s not necessarily an “either or” type of situation when it comes to locums. Instead of thinking about locums vs. permanent placement in those terms, we tell our members to consider utilizing locums to complement their permanent practice staff. Here are some of the reasons why using locums can be a great option for your organization:
Secondary Source of Revenue – While some organizations may view locums as an added financial burden on an already strapped budget, locum tenens physicians have proven to more than pay for themselves and can be a major revenue driver. Your facility is able to provide care to more patients, more attentive care to existing patients, and bring in more money than you would if you had a vacancy in your staffing.
New Doctors – Many new physicians are opting to go the locum tenens route instead of looking for a traditional permanent position. As a result, facilities now have access to a rather large pool of temporary physicians that are young, energetic, and well-versed in the newest treatments and developments for their area of medicine. These physicians can be an excellent option for filling gaps that have opened up in a more tenured medical team.
Semi-Retired Doctors – It’s no secret that a large portion of physicians in the U.S. are closing in on retirement age. However, there is a pretty large segment of those doctors that aren’t quite ready to call it quits. Many of them are turning to part time locum tenens assignments as a way to still bring in income but without the full-time commitment. As a result, your facility can tap into their years of experience and benefit from the deeper clinical skills that they developed over their years in full time practice.
Flexibility of Schedules – It is not uncommon for locums to work a more varied schedule; that’s part of the appeal for hospitals and providers that are looking for a temporary physician. Locum tenens in Latin means “to take the place of,” and that’s exactly what they do – take the place of another physician that is unable to be present for one reason or another. Think of locums as your medical pinch hitters; ready to jump in when you need them. Sometimes this is in a last minute or emergency situation; other times locums are utilized for planned staffing shortages such as time off for a surgery, birth of a child, or a vacation.
Access to More Talent for Remote Communities – Recruitment of permanent physicians for smaller hospitals in remote communities is challenging for a myriad of reasons, many of which are tied to long-term housing options, resources, education, etc. for the physician and their family. Locums that are open to traveling opportunities can be an excellent fit for remote facilities, as they are actively searching work in a variety of settings and typically aren’t looking to take up residence long-term.
Trial Services Period – Locum tenens physicians are an excellent way to “tryout” an area of service before committing. Maybe your facility is considering making adjustments to staffing levels or expanding a practice area; locums are a good way to test out those scenarios for feasibility and profitability before investing significant resources.
At first glance, using locum tenens physicians may not appear to be the solution to your facility’s needs, but after further examination, it’s easy to see how facilities can benefit from utilizing locums. When used strategically, locum tenens physicians can help your practice run smoother, allow you to serve more patients, and drastically increase revenues. It’s a win-win-win for any facility!