We are in a period of unprecedented change in healthcare. Even before COVID-19 upended our perceptions about staffing and virtual medicine, the healthcare industry was changing as disruptors forced administrators to alter care models and find new solutions to create financial sustainability.
As a result, staffing models look different today from both a clinician and administrator perspective. In the recent report, The Future of Work: Redefining the Role of Physicians in the Gig Economy, we take a deep dive into the opportunities and changes in the healthcare staffing market.
It should come as no surprise that locum tenens has emerged as a pivotal piece of healthcare staffing, as demand for service increase and organizations struggle to recruit and retain clinicians.
Historically, there has been a stigma against locum tenens staffing. That stigma has been debunked and tossed aside. With more clinicians looking for flexibility and other opportunities, they are turning to locum tenens assignments to build the type of career and life they desire. Additionally, hospitals and medical practices have experienced the quality of locums clinicians and have come to rely on their services as part of a comprehensive staffing strategy.
This increased interest in locum tenens applies to most specialties, but behavioral health and women’s health stood out in our report.
Telehealth has made behavioral health services more accessible for practices and hospitals of all sizes. In many cases, patients have said they prefer psychiatry services in a virtual setting. Fittingly, the vast majority of behavioral health clinicians reported interest in locums work.
Women’s health is another area worthy of a closer look. According to our report, 56% of women’s health physicians report an interest in traveling locum tenens opportunities. This is a critical area of healthcare that is receiving significant attention nationally. With more physicians willing to travel, locum tenens clinicians have the opportunity to improve access to care and positively impact the health of entire communities.
The Clinician Experience
For clinicians, locum tenens offers the opportunity to build careers while having flexibility and improved work-life balance. In their own words, we get a glimpse of how locums work has changed over the years and why it is desirable for clinicians.
“Initially, I considered it to be declassee, but have learned that it provides much needed services, while allowing better management of my quality of life.”
“I like the freedom of controlling how much/when/where I work.”
“I think overall the quality of locum tenens performances have improved significantly over the years. 10 years ago, you thought of locums as people who might not be able to find jobs elsewhere. Now they are seen as competent providers who are trying to navigate their career in a way that works best for them.”
We hear from more clinicians in the report, who detail their experiences with locum tenens and how it has impacted their careers.
Healthcare in today’s market is about value. Value for patients. Value for clinicians. Value for facilities. It is important to recognize the impact that changing perceptions of locum tenens can have on value-based care.
Just look at the reported value of locum tenens clinicians in the workplace—as reported by more than 2,500 clinicians with wide ranging roles and experience.
It is a new world with new opportunities for clinicians and administrators as they seek to find sustainable staffing in the gig economy. With changing perceptions of locum tenens, more clinicians are considering locums work for their next career move. That only increases the quality of clinicians and helps administrators to deliver value to their patients.