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Less Full-Time Docs Available; Demand Increases for Locum Tenens


Health care facilities are looking more and more toward temporary doctors to fill the vacancies from full-time physician shortages. Since full-time physicians are often highly stressed, more could appreciate the flexibility that a locum tenens career offers.

One of the top ways to de-stress is exercise and almost half of physicians don’t even have the time to do that because of how busy their work schedules are.

Given the high rate of physician burnout, they, more than most, need to find the time to de-stress. Yet, a new survey from physician staffing company Weatherby Healthcare revealed that more than 82% of physicians forgo personal activities like hobbies, exercise and family time.

In order to achieve work-life balance and avoid burnout, many physicians feel they have to retire, close their practice or change careers, according to the survey results. According to Weatherby, 94% of physicians surveyed would like a more accommodating schedule — something that becoming a locum tenens, or temporary physician, can offer.

"This country is losing the experience, skill and wisdom of senior physicians because of burnout," Duane Gainsburg, MD, neurosurgeon with Weatherby Healthcare, said in a statement.

And there is a need for more and more temporary physicians. According to a survey by AMN Healthcare, hospitals medical groups and other health care facilities are turning to locum tenens because they are having trouble finding permanent physicians. And while 75% of those surveyed had used temporary physicians in the last year, the demand is still there for more locum tenens — 41% said they are currently looking for temporary physicians.

“There are simply too few physicians to fill all the available vacancies today,” Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care, said in a statement. “Temporary doctors are providing critical, interim patient care for many health care facilities until they can find the full-time physicians they need.”

The most in demand locum tenens are primary care physicians. AMN’s Staff Care reported that in the last year 20% of positions it was asked to fill were for primary care physicians, 19% for behavioral care providers, 16% for anesthesia providers, 10% for hospitalists and 8% for surgeons.

“Temporary practice is an increasingly popular alternative for many doctors who are tired of the reimbursement, malpractice, and bureaucratic challenges they face today,” Ebner said.

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