SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CHG Healthcare, the nation’s largest provider of locum tenens services, today released its 2023 State of Locum Tenens Report, an overview of trends in today’s short-term physician staffing landscape. Highlighting key industry insights, the report shows a significant increase in the number of physicians taking locum tenens assignments, that physicians are testing short-term roles earlier in their careers, and that healthcare organizations are planning on increasing their use of locum tenens assignments to fill critical roles.
“Influential association and healthcare organization leaders understand the value of a strategic, proactive approach to temporary staffing and flexibility, especially when partnered with a strong and caring staffing partner,” said Scott Beck, CEO of CHG Healthcare. “Locum tenens provide a crucial safety net for continuing patient access to care while also giving physicians facing burnout a flexible way to continue practicing.”
Locum Tenens Landscape Steadily Shifting
More physicians are working locum tenens — shorter-term assignments filling critical staffing gaps — than ever before. According to the CHG Healthcare report, approximately 7% of the available physician population, an estimated 50,000 physicians, worked at least one locum tenens assignment in the past year. This represents an 88% increase in physicians taking locum tenens assignments since 2015. The report also shows that among physicians working locum tenens, slightly more physicians are purely working in this manner full time (43%) than was the case in 2019 (30%).
The CHG Healthcare report found that the majority of physicians with locum tenens experience (59%) reported taking their first assignment within 10 years of completing their medical training. While there are rising rates of physicians seeking locum tenens engagements earlier in their careers for work/life balance, the largest segment of the current locum tenens workforce is mid- to late-career physicians over the age of 45.
“Locums in the past were typically older, more tenured physicians looking for a way to ease into retirement. Today, we’re seeing more and more young physicians who want better work/life balance and flexibility in their lives,” said Luke Woodyard, President of Weatherby Healthcare. “Being a physician used to be all about the work; now it’s about the work and the life outside of work.”
Healthcare Facilities Utilizing More Locum Tenens Providers
Healthcare organizations continue to use locum tenens for various reasons, including maintaining access to care for patients and filling temporarily vacant positions when clinicians are on family leave or vacation, according to the report. In an uptick since 2020, CHG Healthcare found that more organizations are now also using locum tenens to meet rising patient demand and during peak periods, such as influenza season.
“Locum tenens staffers are a need, not a want,” said Amy Powell, CPRP, Director of Medical Staff Recruitment at Reid Health, a not-for-profit health system with over 200 beds in its inpatient hospital in Richmond, Indiana. “The pandemic, combined with the general workforce shortage, has made finding permanent staff even more difficult. Locums are a good gap filler.”
The report found that among the 64% of surveyed organizations that reported using locum tenens in 2021, 82% anticipated their locum tenens utilization to remain constant or increase in the future, an indicator of the continuing need for flexible staffing solutions.
Locum Tenens Sector Leaving Positive Impressions
The report also revealed perceptions about locum tenens across physicians, patients, staffing personnel, and colleagues. When asked about their overall impression of locum tenens, 71% of physicians reported having a very positive or somewhat positive impression of locum tenens; favorable impressions have remained steady over the past few years.
Staffing personnel in hospitals report having a high level of acceptance of locum tenens usage in their facilities, with some even embracing the model. Administration staff (79%) and physician colleagues (76%), respectively, stated they accepted locums physicians; 16% and 13% of those groups embrace the model.
Melinda Giese, Sr. Vice President at CHG Healthcare, notes, “Health systems can help themselves by adopting a strategic approach to their locum tenens staffing. Simply cutting locums budgets may create a short-term savings but is potentially leaving revenue on the table.” She added, “When billed for correctly, locums can generate three times the revenue compared to the cost.”
While temporary physician staffing is not a universal solution for the larger challenges in healthcare access and physician workforce shortages, years of data have progressively shown how beneficial locum tenens is as a short- to medium-term solution that adds value for the physicians themselves and provides gap-filling and flexibility offered to over-strained permanent staffs. Read the full 2023 State of Locum Tenens Report here.
About CHG Healthcare
Founded in 1979, CHG Healthcare is a leader in healthcare staffing and the nation’s largest provider of locum tenens services. CHG is the parent company of four healthcare staffing companies: CompHealth, Weatherby Healthcare, Global Medical Staffing, and RNnetwork. CHG also owns two technology companies: Modio Health and Locumsmart. CHG prides itself on having a values-driven culture that focuses on putting people first and has been named a top workplace by both FORTUNE and Glassdoor. To learn more about the company’s staffing solutions and culture, visit http://www.chghealthcare.com.