PCPs in greatest demand to fill healthcare organization needs, survey finds

April 1, 2013

Primary care physicians (PCPs) are in the greatest demand by hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations seeking to fill staffing needs, a new survey indicates.

Primary care physicians (PCPs) are in the greatest demand by hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations seeking to fill staffing needs, a new survey indicates.

This trend mirrors a projection from the Association of American Medical Colleges, which predicts the United States will reach a shortage of 45,000 of PCPs by 2025.

The annual survey, 2013 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, was conducted by AMN Healthcare subsidiary Staff Care, a healthcare staffing firm based in Irving, Texas. Staff Care, which specializes in locum tenens physician placements, polled hospital and medical group managers by email about their use of temporary clinicians and includes data on the types of clinicians healthcare facilities use on a temporary basis. The Staff Care survey defines PCPs as those in family practice, general internal medicine, and pediatrics.

Complete results of Staff Care’s 2013 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends can be found at www.staffcare.com. Survey results are based on 2012 placement data.

In the Staff Care report, 74% of healthcare facility managers surveyed said their facilities had used temporary physicians or advanced practitioners in the last 12 months. Moreover, 35% had used locum tenens PCPs, 31% had used temporary behavioral health professionals, 12% had used locum tenens surgeons, and 10%  had used temporary PAs or NPs.

Demand for clinicians in these fields is high, and supply is limited, says Sean Ebner, president of Staff Care.

The survey also indicates that many healthcare facilities are seeking to extend their clinical workforces through telemedicine.

Forty-three percent of healthcare facility managers said their facilities had integrated telemedicine into a least one of their departments. Of these, 42% have integrated telemedicine into radiology, 38% into behavioral health, and 24% into primary care.          

“Telemedicine is one way to bring the work to physicians when you can’t bring physicians to the work,” Ebner says.

“Temporary practice is an increasingly popular alternative for many doctors who are tired of the bureaucratic and other restrictions they face today,” he continues.  “It reduces the hassles and allows doctors to do what they do best, which is to provide superior patient care.”

Hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations also are tapping temporary physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) to help fill the gaps on their medical staffs caused by the nationwide shortage of physicians, the survey indicates.

The newest poll indicates that of all requests received by Staff Care, those for temporary PAs and NPs grew to 10% in 2012 compared with less than 2% in 2010. The firm attributes the 8% spike in requests for temporary PAs and NPs to a shortage of certain clinicians and physicians.

Traditionally, this shortfall was made up by locum tenens physicians.

Ebner says that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are turning to temporary PAs and NPs when they cannot fill permanent positions. In some cases, these same facilities are seeking PAs and NPs to supplement their physician staffs.  

“There are not enough PAs and NPs to make up for provider shortages in primary care and other areas,” he says. “Today, both advanced practitioners such as PAs and NPs and physicians are in short supply.”