Ryan Scharer
Jan 30, 2020, 14 min read

Through locum tenens, healthcare professionals can leverage three important healthcare hiring trends in the New Year.

As we step into a new year and a new decade, it’s the perfect time for healthcare professionals to take stock of the industry and see where the best career opportunities can be found. In all, 2.8 million jobs were added to the healthcare sector between 2006 and 2016 — a growth rate nearly seven times faster than the rest of the economy, reports Health Affairs, a health policy thought and research journal.

But even with all that job growth, hospitals and other medical practices are finding themselves stretched for resources. The American Hospital Association (AHA) noted that by 2032, surgical specialties are projected to have staffing shortages ranging from 14,300 to 23,400.

"Locum tenens plays an important role in addressing shortages, by making more talent available to practices that are in dire need of help. That’s just one way that locums provide solutions to many of the most pressing challenges in healthcare today."

Here are my top three healthcare hiring trends to monitor in 2020, and how they might impact healthcare professionals looking for new career opportunities, including through locum tenens.

1. Fewer providers are looking to own a practice

It’s becoming less and less common for physicians to own their own practice. In fact, 2018 was the first year where there were fewer physician owners than employed physicians, according to the American Medical Association. Approximately 45% of physicians in 2018 owned their own practice, a decrease from about 53% in 2012. Additionally, nearly 7% of physicians in 2018 were independent contractors, increasing from the reported 5% in 2012.

Why is this the case? I believe it has to do with changing workforce needs. Running a practice means running a business and all that it entails. Millennials and Generation Z are entering the healthcare workforce, and they are looking for a better work-life balance. Wellness programs and specifics on how an organization values work-life balance is crucial. Attracting the Gen Z professional will necessitate the alignment of organizational and team values, reports ASCO Daily News (American Society of Clinical Oncology). We see that reflected in situations when younger providers enter negotiations with an employer. They often ask for certain lifestyle-related benefits, such as generous maternal/paternal leave, more time off, or limits around the number of calls per day they can take.

This also ties into the trend of provider burnout. More healthcare professionals are trying to prevent themselves from becoming overwhelmed, unhappy, and potentially depressed at work. A 2019 Medscape survey found that 44% of physicians reported feeling burned out and 11% are “feeling down, blue or sad.” And physician burnout comes with a monetary cost as well, reports the Annals of Internal Medicine: The annual economic cost associated with burnout related to turnover and reduced clinical hours is approximately $7,600 per employed physician each year. That equals about $4.6 billion nationally each year. 

Locum tenens plays an important role in addressing shortages, by making more talent available to practices that are in dire need of help. That’s just one way that locums provide solutions to many of the most pressing challenges in healthcare today.

Click here to read about social good. It occurs when you can give back to a community, perhaps working in under-served areas or learning new techniques to advance your ability to provide exceptional patient care.

The bottom line: Providers want options that allow them to do the work that they love, but without the additional emotional, physical and mental strain that can come with a demanding job. Locum tenens offers a way to do just that, as it can provide the flexibility providers need to do fulfilling work while managing the rigors of a career. 

2. Career needs are changing based on the stage of your career

While an aging physician population doesn’t necessarily mean that every older healthcare professional is ready to retire, it does mean that some of them are simply shifting career musts. Some providers may not actually want to retire, but instead would prefer to work a little less and leave behind some of the more demanding aspects of their career without leaving medicine.

Even still, retirement is a challenge for healthcare. More than one-third of all active physicians will be 65 or older by 2027, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Older physicians are also more common in rural areas, which already suffer from poorer access to quality care. A 2019 report in The New England Journal of Medicine found that more than 50% of rural physicians were at least 50 years old in 2017. Additionally, more than 25% of rural physicians were at least 60-years old. With a projected 23% decrease in the number of rural area physicians by 2030, there is a clear need for qualified medical care in this part of the country.

Locum tenens offers a potential solution to several of these trends. It’s an alternative to older physicians who want to wind down from a full-time work schedule. It’s also an avenue for younger healthcare professionals who are willing to spend some time in rural parts of the country for an opportunity to help solve one of healthcare’s most pressing challenges.

3. Key specialties are growing

Finally, not all healthcare hiring is equal. At Hayes Locums, we’ve been increasingly hearing higher recruiting demand for the sub-specialties of internal medicine, as well as the surgical specialties.

There is fierce demand for specialty AP roles like Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), who can work on a team led by a physician anesthesiologist. The CRNA field is booming. Overall employment of nurse anesthetists is projected to grow 26% through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. CRNA’s have an opportunity through locums to fill a much-needed role to partner with physician anesthesiologists all over the country.

Essentially, if you’re a practicing physician or advanced practitioner, now is the best time to do locum tenens work. Facilities need your help, so you won’t have trouble finding potentially lucrative, fulfilling assignments related to your specialty through locum tenens.

We see these three trends — fewer physician-owned practices, changing career needs based on the stage of one’s career, and growth in the arena of internal medicine specialties and surgical specialties — as significantly impacting the way hospitals and medical practices hire physicians and advanced practitioners in 2020. Through locum tenens, healthcare providers have the chance to leverage each trend as an opportunity to take their career in a new and positive direction. All these factors combined are helping to solve patient care issues.

Find your career opportunity this year

Discover your way to locums. Let’s talk. Call 1-888-837-3172.

By Ryan Scharer

Ryan Scharer is a co-founder of Hayes Locums, an award-winning physician and advanced practitioner staffing company founded on a commitment to advance the ability to provide exceptional patient care throughout the country. His background, which is rooted in sales for the medical industry, is critical to his role as COO. Ryan leads sales and guides the development of the Hayes Locums team of staffing consultants.

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