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Use of Locum Tenens Physicians Keeps Growing

Rise in hiring of locum tenens by hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations driven by physician shortage and employed physician model January 20, 2017 Ken Terry, Contributing Editor, Medscape Medical News In a reflection of changing practice patterns, an increasing number of hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations are hiring locum tenens physicians to fill gaps in care, according to a new survey released by Staff Care, a firm that staffs healthcare facilities. The survey found that about 48,000 physicians work in locum tenens positions, up from 44,000 in 2014 and 26,000 in 2002. Of the 206 managers of healthcare facilities who responded to the 2016 survey, 94% said they’d employed locum tenens physicians within the past 12 months, compared to 91% in 2014 and 74% in 2012. Forty-seven percent of the facilities were actively seeking locum tenens doctors, up from 42% in 2014 and 39% in 2012. Primary care doctors were the most sought-after locum tenens practitioners. Almost 44% of the facility managers had hired temporary primary care doctors in the past year, compared to 35% in 2014 and 28% in 2012. Also in demand were hospitalists, behavioral healthcare providers, and emergency medicine physicians. About three quarters of the managers had used at least one locum tenens physician in a typical month, and 24% had used four or more, up from 18% in 2014. Just more than a quarter of the managers had hired locum tenens nurse practitioners or physician assistants, compared to nearly 10% in 2012. Locum tenens physicians were mainly used to fill in until permanent doctors were found in certain specialties or to address staff turnover....