Demand for temporary physicians keeps growing, survey finds
■ A new review shows family physicians and psychiatrists are in high demand in California, anesthesiologists are needed in North Carolina and radiologists in New York.
By Myrle Croasdale — Posted Nov. 14, 2005
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Physicians who don't want to be tied down to a specific practice or city have more options than ever. A new study shows that demand for physicians willing to work in temporary positions is stronger than in years past.
Staff Care Inc., a physician staffing firm in Irving, Texas, estimates in its 2005 review of temporary physician staffing trends that spending on temporary physician services neared $3 billion in 2004, almost double what it was four years ago.
"Health care staffing has steadily been moving toward the temporary model," said Joseph Caldwell, executive vice president of Staff Care. "We have seen it in nursing and the allied health professions, and now we are seeing it with doctors."
In the report, the company estimates that 34,000 physicians worked on a temporary basis in 2004 nationwide, compared with 27,000 in 2001.
It tied the growth in locum tenens physicians to physician shortages, as medical facilities used temporary doctors to care for patients while they recruited permanent physicians. It also tied locum tenens physician demand to an increase in practicing physician requests for time off and growth among military and correctional facilities.
On a regional basis, California had the greatest need for psychiatrists and family physicians during 2004. North Carolina led demand for anesthesiologists, and New York had the biggest demand for radiologists, the report said.
Staff Care based its estimates on a telephone survey of 507 temporary physicians and 602 hospital and medical group administrators in 2005 and on a review of the firm's 2004 staffing assignments.
Among the reasons respondents gave for choosing temporary work: 48% said it was the flexible schedule, 38% said it gave them the opportunity to travel, 35% cited the additional income, and 34% said they did it for the clinical experience.