Locum Tenens Staffing: An Answer to Rural America’s Physician Shortage

As Obamacare provisions begin to take effect, and more Americans find themselves newly insured, it has been predicted that over the next 10 years the nation will need approximately 90,000 more doctors. This physician shortage is expected to hit rural America particularly hard, creating an even stronger need for primary care physicians, surgeons, and medical specialists.

According to Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, the need for primary care in under-served areas is of extreme consequence. “We are losing tens of thousands of people every single year who die because they don’t get to a doctor when they should,” Sen. Sanders said in an April Senate committee meeting on improving access to primary care. “We are seeing people ending up in hospitals when they could have been treated earlier, because they did not gain access to medical care when they needed it; when it was appropriate.”

For those employers and healthcare providers already feeling the need for more physicians, and are looking for ways to prepare for an increase in demand for health services, Jeff Motta, an Account Executive of The Execu|Search Group’s Locum Tenens recruiting division,  suggests the solution that best meets the needs of those living in areas with remote healthcare is for hospitals and medical practices to align themselves with local firms that can provide locum tenens staffing solutions. “A good majority of New England hospitals, medical facilities, and clinics are in rural locations, specifically in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Western Massachusetts. Locum Tenens staffing firms can help prepare these medical facilities for the physician shortage by connecting them with highly qualified physicians depending on their unique needs, for as long as they will be needed for.”

Both medical practices and hospitals can benefit uniquely from such an arrangement, as supplementing healthcare teams with locum tenens doctors means institutions can cut back on staffing when need decreases, making for an extremely cost-effective solution. For hospitals and medical practices that are seeing patients drive an hour or more for healthcare services, creating outposts comprised of locum tenens doctors can be one method to meet the demand from patients living in rural areas.

The exchange is mutual, as locum tenens physicians gain many benefits from serving these under-represented populations. In a recent industry survey of over 500 physicians, 48% said the chance to have a flexible schedule was appealing to them, and ultimately key in their decision to work short-term physician staffing assignments. The other benefits were split between travel opportunities, earning extra income, and gaining clinical experience.

Hiring locum tenens doctors is an effective way of increasing staffing in remote areas, where patient need is great, and recruiting locum tenens physicians can be a long-term viable solution to meet the needs of the under-served. For more information about Locum Tenens staffing in the New England area, email Jeff Motta at jmotta@execu-search.com, or call him at 718.419.9979.