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The Locum Tenens Decision; a Fit for Physicians and Hospitals



The year 2009 saw decay in employment across all spectrums of society.  From a decline in the number of small businesses started to careers in the education field, every area was victim to decreased employment rates and less than ideal new job openings.

The healthcare field was no exception, and the traveling healthcare sector, an area that was long heralded as a recession-proof job, subsequently suffered from the rest of them.  But the times have changed and the year is 2013.  The employment numbers that once looked dismal have done a 180 and now are very promising.  The Locum tenens area of healthcare continues to grow with the latest numbers released showing 85% of hospitals and clinics that using some form of locum tenens over the course of the year, a number that is up 13% from last year.

What’s the reason for the turnaround? Given the latest rounds of healthcare reform and policy changes, hospitals have to find a solution for the numerous positions that are becoming available under the new legislation.  Often times, finding a qualified individual to fill the space can be a timely ordeal full of negotiating, location logistics, and schedules.

The solution?  Locum tenens.  A major driving force behind many of these healthcare facilities decisions to make use of locum tenens as a means of keeping their patient intake rates up during their search for a permanent resident.

Aside from the above reasons, hospitals have other deciding factors that can lead to the need for a locum tenens to be used.  Upon their inception into the healthcare industry back in the ’70s, locum tenens were typically used to fill the spot of a doctor or physician who was out sick, taking a vacation, or on sabbatical.

Now, locum tenens can be used as a means of filling the position of someone who has recently left the company, supplementing the current staff during busy or peal seasons, or even test the region’s healthcare climate for a new product or service.

With all the emphasis on the employer’s side of the equation, let’s take a look at some of the motivating reasons physicians and doctors have chosen to take on a locum tenens assignment.  While the financial side of the contract was a motivating factor for some, the biggest reasons those who took a contract last year cited was the flexibility and job experience it gave them.

Clinics and hospitals that seek out the needs of a locum tenens often do so very aware of the marketing position they must place themselves in order to become appealing to the potential candidate.  It is because of this that locum tenens contracts and assignments often come with a slew of benefits and incentives. Rural locums assignments can give the physician or doctor a chance to experience parts of the United States and potentially the world that might have otherwise been impossible.

Another factor that goes into this decision is the atmosphere the practicing physician will find themselves in.  Unfortunately, most hospitals and sometimes clinics are steeped in bureaucratic proceedings that can be a big turnoff to doctors seeking permanent residence.  Locum tenens, while of course still having to abide by regulation are inherently temporary and thus not as exposed to such medical politics.

As the healthcare industry continues to expand the need for locum tenens will consequently grow, giving physicians alike a chance to experience a new geographic location as well as a new healthcare demographic that can better flesh out a resume, job skills, or even a check on that bucket list.