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For Physicians and CRNAs, "Freedom" Equals "Autonomy"


6/28/2007 12:00:00 AM


For Physicians and CRNAs, "Freedom" Equals "Autonomy" Physician Recruiting Firm Survey Underscores Why Many Work Locum Tenens

ALPHARETTA, GA, May 1, 2007

Along with summer months come the patriotic national holidays when Americans celebrate freedom. To Dr. Ann Groover of Calhoun, Ga., professional freedom means, "…working twelve hours one day to get the job done, and six hours another to go see the second grade play."

Overwhelmingly, physicians and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) responding to a recent poll by physician recruiting firm defined professional freedom as 'autonomy.' A majority of the more than 500 responding clinicians expressed a desire for greater latitude in scheduling, clinical decision-making and setting professional fees.

"Since 9/11 the healthcare industry has seen a growing number of physicians wanting better balance in their lives," Senior Vice President Pamela McKemie said. "They're focusing more on home and family and seeking work opportunities that let them practice medicine the way they want to, where they want to, and when they want to."

The early 2007 survey results echo findings from recent studies conducted by physician recruiting firm and other organizations. Among almost 2,200 physicians in 18 specialties who responded to a survey in early 2006, 93% expressed frustration with medical practice. Findings from both that survey and one conducted later in the year by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) indicated that issues like low reimbursement levels, high workload volume and loss of autonomy are causing this frustration.

"Working locum tenens frees physicians from many of these hassles of practicing medicine," McKemie said. She noted that major locum tenens agencies like take care of most business aspects of practicing medicine, leaving physicians and CRNAs free to focus on patient care. These include negotiating contracts with hospitals or medical groups, providing malpractice insurance, getting licensed in a new state, getting credentialed at the assigned medical facility, arranging transportation to/from the assignment, securing housing during the assignment, and billing/collecting for services.

In a March 2003 Medical Economics article, author Gail Garfinkel Weiss wrote, "If there's a watchword to describe locum work, it's 'freedom.' Locum tenens is the practice option of choice for physicians who want to travel, work when it suits them, sample different practice types and settings, learn new techniques, or ease into retirement. It also offers freedom from nettlesome aspects of practice, such as overhead expenses, administrative hassles, and office politics."

Almost half (48%) of the clinicians responding to's "freedom" survey said they work locum tenens, with a quarter of respondents doing so full-time. "Locum tenens," a Latin phrase that means "to hold the place of, to substitute for," refers to a temporary physician. (For more information, visit

Clinicians Define Freedom

In her complete survey response Dr. Groover wrote, "Freedom means flexibility, in scheduling and practice. It means choice about how you make clinical decisions and try to effect remedies, about how you lead, teach and inspire your peers and your clients. It means working twelve hours one day to get the job done, and six hours another to go see the second grade play."

For Michael Trobec, DO, of Rutland, Mass., freedom is many things: "[It's] freedom from third-party payors [sic] who continue to make us work more to earn less. Freedom to make the patient our first priority. Freedom to raise my family in a healthy, safe [and] economically stable environment. Freedom to be able to work hard, be productive and be reimbursed fairly."

For some, locum tenens work is part of their definition of freedom. Kimberly Burgess, MD, of Charleston, W.Va. responded, "I love locum tenens because it gives me freedom to work when I want or need to and to be off when I choose. I don't have to coordinate my time off with colleagues, associates, partners or the hospital. It is truly being able to 'work to live, not live to work!'"

According to David Nowak, CRNA, also a locum tenens provider from DeKalb, Ill., "Freedom is self-scheduling. No more begging, borrowing, or self-sacrificing for time-off."

Jerome Lottman, a full-time locum tenens CRNA from Marietta, Ga., defined a contract or locum tenens [medical provider] as "a 'free agent' in business for oneself, calling the shots - a dream for most working people."

Founded in 1995, is a full-service physician/CRNA recruiting firm specializing in supplemental placement of anesthesiologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, radiologists, surgeons and CRNAs with U.S. hospitals, medical groups and community health centers. is part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies. To learn more, visit

Media Contact:
Deb Zelnio
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