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February 8, 2023

Survey: 9 out of 10 Healthcare Providers Use Locum Tenens to Address Staffing Shortages

February 8, 2023

Addressing staffing shortages at healthcare facilities requires a multi-pronged approach. Even before the complications brought on by Covid-19, the US was already facing an impending “physician retirement cliff.” Some facilities have cut hours and reduced elective procedures to keep their operations stable. New staff retention efforts, like hefty bonuses, have also been employed. But rather than resort to extreme measures like closing hospital programs, an AMN healthcare survey shows that 88% of healthcare facilities have used locum tenens providers over the last year to fill the gap. 

Demand for Locum Tenens in Healthcare

Demand for locum tenens lowered in 2020 as Covid-19 required many healthcare facilities to stop all elective procedures, but it has since rebounded. The healthcare industry is fighting an aging clinical workforce that has faced severe burnout and heavy competition in certain specialties. In 2021, the use of travel nurses was up 55% as providers scrambled to meet the recovering demand for healthcare. Facing crisis rates in staffing, healthcare facilities have used every means necessary to make it work, including employing locum tenens.

Learn more about the Pros and Cons of Anesthesiologist and CRNA Employment Options for Your Facility.

Locum Tenens By Specialities 

Anesthesiologists and CRNAs are the top specialties sought out by healthcare providers for locum tenens jobs. This is aligned with the trending increase in anesthesia procedures, especially as elective procedures rebounded after Covid-19. 

After anesthesia providers, hospitalists were the next most sought-after position, and the third most employed locum tenens positions over the past year were behavioral health providers, including psychiatrists. Covid-19 put a strain on behavioral health services as the country grappled with its “new normal,” accounting for the need for these kinds of locum tenens providers. 

Considering joining other locum tenens providers to improve access to healthcare? MBM can consult with you on the best way forward. 

Value of Locum Tenes in Healthcare Staffing Shortages: Quality & Cost 

From the AMN Survey, 62% of healthcare providers reported their locum tenens as having “good or excellent” skills and service. This points to the rigorous standards for checking and credentialing locum tenens providers. 

These employees are an important solution to staffing shortages that allows a healthcare facility to maintain its revenue stream in times of crisis. The cost to employ locum tenens can, of course, be more expensive than traditional, long-term staffing, but it can be an investment required to serve patients well. 

The Future of Locum Tenens Position

An increase in strain on healthcare facilities’ staffing is predicted to continue, as a high incidence of disease in the US forces Americans to seek treatment. According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 Americans live with chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or lung disease. 

Coupled with physician deficits and an aging population, locum tenens usage is likely to increase to fight unequal access to service in the coming years. In addition, a general trend of “convenient care” is changing the healthcare continuum paradigm. Instead of seeking primary care in a traditional, office-based setting, patients choose to forgo continuity of care for a more transactional environment. 

Worried about staff shortages at your healthcare facility? We can help!

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