Physician Staffing Shortages? Locum Tenens To The Rescue

122569320Nearly every staffing manager or recruiter has faced a physician shortage. The position is tenuous – do you require more of your existing staff, or risk lapses in care for fear of harming morale?

Workload Drawbacks

Let’s assume that the human resources department tries to make do with existing personnel.  Physicians are asked to cover shortages, perhaps with incentives. But the fatigue factor can quickly turn a solution into a downward spiral.

A team member’s exhaustion leads to insufficient sleep, resulting in decreases in cognition, performance and mood. Working long hours has also been linked to increased injury rates and adverse health effects, not to mention the potential for errors in the diagnostic and treatment process.

Requiring more from staff physicians is far from optimal, and going without is not an option. Still, a serious staffing gap exists. Is there an alternative?

Locums For Hire

Literally meaning “to hold the place of,” locum tenens is the practice of providing temporary physician staffing to hospitals for a variety of reasons and needs. Dating back to the early 1970s, this practice originated through a federal grant at the University of Utah as a way of reaching rural health clinics in medically underserved areas.

Today, thousands of health professionals work for locum tenens companies like Hayes Locums as a way of maintaining a flexible schedule, earning extra income or gaining experience.

PREMIUM CONTENT: US Healthcare Staffing Growth Assessment

Fill Short Term, Plan Long Term

A drawn-out hiring process may be appropriate to fill long-term staffing gaps, but it does nothing to alleviate the concerns a hospital faces on a given day. And certainly, most facilities don’t have the capital to keep extra personnel on the payroll “just in case.” Hayes Locums and other companies have licensed physicians available to address immediate requirements, while the lengthier efforts move forward.

The Answer Is Clear

Physician staffing problems are a reality, whether due to employee turnover or temporary situations such as illness, sabbaticals, holidays, family commitments and many other circumstances. A hospital simply can’t go without coverage; asking the team to work longer and harder can lead to even greater difficulties, and permanent solutions are costly and take time. Locum tenens professionals – those who “hold the place of” another – are the perfect solution.

MORE: A Change is Afoot in the Locum Tenens Industry

John Hayes
John Hayes is president of Hayes Locums.

John Hayes is president of Hayes Locums.

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