Locum Tenens physicians
In a recent survey (Staffcare) of healthcare facility staffing needs, 94% of managers surveyed reported using one or more locum tenens (LT) physicians sometime during the last 12 months. This is up from 74% in 2012. Consistent with workforce physician shortages, Primary Care physicians made up 43.5% followed by hospitalists, behavioral health and emergency department physicians. Surgeons were used as LT in 10.8% of facilities. Most (3/4) facilities use locum physicians till they staff up with permanent replacements. But other needs include substitutions for vacations, illnesses, and additions for peak times. Managers cite consistency as an advantage and cost a disadvantage with LT.
Managers rated 65% of LT physicians as excellent or good and accepted by other physicians.
Comment: I have seen several physicians, (even surgeons) work LT once or twice a month and not necessarily after retirement. They claim they like the flexibility and make decent money without the management headaches. Compensation depends on the demand in the specialty, type of facility (rural have more needs) and special skill sets. According to CHG Healthcare, on average physicians who work LT full-time make $32.45 per hour more than non-LT doctors. While non-surgeons are generally paid $90-200/hour, surgeons are paid by the day from $900 to 2000. LT physicians do not have to worry about malpractice coverage, credentialing, licensure, travel and housing. We may see more millenials opting for this mode adding to workforce shortages.