Many things about our healthcare system are changing, but we know that locum tenens physicians are needed more than ever. As the world continues to combat the coronavirus, locums providers play a critical role in response to virus outbreaks across the country and the need for immediate, high-quality patient care. Moreover, as physicians report record levels of burnout, locum fill-ins provide an opportunity to combat it.
Last year, nearly all (85%) hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare facilities used locum tenens doctors, per a report from AMN Healthcare. Jeff Decker, President of Staff Care, also noted, “As healthcare facilities respond to Covid-19, some are using locum tenens physicians, particularly emergency medicine physicians and primary care physicians, to supplement their staff.” A Doximity report also showed a steep increase in locum tenens opportunities among U.S. physicians.
Most physician recruiters want to secure great physicians who will not only provide stellar care but stay long term. Keeping your facility staff isn’t that easy, though. On average, it takes 222 days for an in-house recruiter at a hospital to fill an open position, per a benchmark report from AAPPR.
That’s why locum tenens should be part of your permanent recruitment strategy. Locum tenens physicians provide care until you can hire permanent physicians, and locums are great for trial runs that can turn into permanent hires.
In an earlier article, we highlighted that doctors at almost any level of their career are a great fit for locum tenens. Still, we believe recruiting newly minted doctors as locums is an essential part of permanent recruiting goals. You can bring them on quickly, they have energy and enthusiasm, and they’re eager to learn (per Weatherby Healthcare). They may be your next permanent hire because locum tenens opportunities are an excellent way for both your organization and the physician to get to know each other.
Hiring locum tenens as part of your permanent recruiting strategy can also help you combat burnout among the staff you already have. Just one temporary doctor can help lighten patient care loads and allow other doctors a much-needed break. Even if you already have a new hire, you need time for onboarding, which can take three months or more, so a locum tenens physician can alleviate issues and help your staff achieve a better work-life balance.
Maintaining continuity of care is especially critical during COVID-19, and locum tenens can help you fill gaps caused by the pandemic. As we wrote in this article, there are some definite benefits for physicians: 5 Surprising Perks of Locum Tenens Work. Plus, licensing requirements have been relaxed under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which temporarily loosened restrictions for practicing across state lines and increased telemedicine access.
Are you making locum tenens part of your long-term recruitment strategy? These physicians can be a critical part of covering turnover and shortages in your staff – and they just might turn out to be a physician who stays.
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