Healthcare News & Insights

Use of locum tenens NPs and PAs rose significantly in 2013

Did your hospital employ any locum tenens last year? If so, you were part of a big crowd — 90% of healthcare organizations used locum tenens in 2013. Two groups that experienced significant growth from 2012 to 2013 were locum tenens nurse practitioners (NPs) whose use almost tripled and locum tenens physician assistants (PAs) whose use nearly doubled. 

178081860According to the 2014 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, the use of locum tenens in 2013 increased more than 16% over 2012. That’s the largest percentage recorded in the history of the survey.

Another group that triple the growth was locum tenens certified registered nurse anesthetists.

As for the physician in the hospital setting, hospitalist locum tenens experienced a 5.52% growth and emergency medicine locum tenens experienced a 5.01% growth.

Physician shortage

The overall increase of locum tenens usage directly correlated to the physician shortage, noted the study.

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates there’ll be a shortage of more than 90,000 physicians by 2020. And that number isn’t expected to decrease. In fact by 2025, the shortage is expected to grow to more than 130,000.

Part of the reason for the continued growth is being blamed on the  Affordable Care Act (ACA) and meeting its needs.

So if there’s a physician shortage, why are locum tenens NPs and PAs experiencing such a surge in demand?

It’s caused by the fact that with such a limited number of physicians to go around, recruiting and retaining physicians is increasingly difficult. So in order to meet patient demand, hospitals, medical practices and other healthcare organizations are looking to non-physician providers who can perform many physician services at lower costs.

 Additional key findings

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

  • Primary care physicians are in the greatest demand as locum tenens, with 28% of respondents saying they had used them in the previous 12 months.
  • In response to the ACA, 31% of the survey respondents said they will add additional permanent medical staff.
  • More than 71% of health facility administrators rated the general skill level of locum tenens physicians as either good or excellent. That’s up from 65% in 2012.
  • Eighty percent of health facility administrators indicated that locum tenens are worth their weight in gold, despite the fact that they put costs down as being one of the drawbacks of using locum tenens physicians.

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