Freedom and flexibility were cited as the two primary benefits of working temporary assignments as a physician, according to a recent survey. Other reasons physicians enjoy temporary assignments include pay rates and the opportunity to travel, according to Staff Care, a national physician staffing firm.
Known as locum tenens, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses who fill temporary gaps in hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities also reported that the COVID-19 pandemic did not change the number of temporary assignments they accepted. About 18% of the respondents said they increased the number of temporary assignments because of the pandemic, according to the 2021 Survey of Locum Tenens Providers.
“Locum tenens physicians and other locum tenens providers have been widely used for years to fill gaps caused [by] a shortage of healthcare professionals,” said Staff Care President Jeff Decker. “Having a mobile resource of providers that health care facilities can draw on can be particularly useful when health care challenges spike, as they have with COVID-19.”
Staff Care estimates that the number of temporary physicians is growing, with about 52,000 physicians filling the critical need each year.
“Many physicians and other providers are burned out by the administrative and reimbursement hassles that come with medical practice today,” Decker said. “Locum tenens allows for a comparative degree of freedom and the ability to focus on treating patients, which is what health care providers enjoy the most.”
Working as a temporary physician is a great option for physicians who participate in the Physician Retraining & Reentry (PRR) program, as it allows physicians to continue practicing, or return to practice, on their own scheduling terms while filling gaps in patient care.
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