Survey: Temporary Primary Care Physicians in Most Demand

Thursday, September 17, 2009 General News
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IRVING, Texas, Sept. 16 Primary care physicians lead the list of medical providers being sought to fill openings on a temporary basis, according to a new survey from Staff Care, a nationwide temporary physician staffing firm and an AMN Healthcare company.

The survey indicates that over 70 percent of healthcare facilities have used temporary doctors - who are known by the Latin phrase locum tenens -- in the last 12 months. Of those surveyed by Staff Care, 43 percent are seeking temporary primary care physicians, more than twice the number seeking any other type of doctor or other healthcare professional.

"A shortage of primary care physicians is affecting virtually every region of the country," notes Tim Boes, president of Staff Care. "Hospitals, medical groups and other healthcare facilities are using temporary, locum tenens doctors to maintain services until permanent physicians can be found."

Anesthesia providers also are being sought on a temporary basis, the survey indicates. Twenty percent of healthcare facilities are seeking locum tenens anesthesiologists or other anesthesia providers, the survey shows, while 16 percent are seeking mental health specialists, 11 percent are seeking radiologists, eight percent are seeking surgeons and over two percent are seeking dentists. Sixty-three percent of facilities surveyed indicated that they use at least one locum tenens physician in a typical month, while 43 percent said they use at least four locum tenens physicians in a typical month.

According to Boes, locum tenens physicians work temporary assignments that can last from a few days up to a year. Some locum tenens physicians may work just one or two temporary assignments annually on a moonlighting basis, while others work temporary assignments year-round. More physicians are embracing locum tenens because it provides an alternative to the reimbursement and management challenges inherent to traditional medical practice, Boes notes.

In addition to responses from hospitals and medical groups, Staff Care's 2009 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends includes responses from over 750 physicians who work on a locum tenens basis. Physicians surveyed rated "freedom and flexibility" as the main benefit of working as a locum tenens, followed by "lack of medical politics," "travel," "pay rate," "professional development," and a "way to find a permanent job."

Though something of an anomaly 10 to 15 years ago, locum tenens physicians today are a common component of many hospital medical staffs and are widely accepted by healthcare facility administrators, permanent staff physicians and patients, the survey indicates. Eighty-four percent of locum tenens physicians surveyed said they are accepted by facility administrators, 86 percent said they are accepted by permanent staff physicians, and 96 percent said they are accepted by patients.

A copy of Staff Care's 2009 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends can be accessed at

About Staff Care

Staff Care is the leading physician staffing company in the United States, providing temporary physicians and allied healthcare professionals to hospitals, medical groups, government facilities and other healthcare organizations nationwide. Staff Care is a company of AMN Healthcare, the largest healthcare staffing organization in the United States.

SOURCE Staff Care

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