Gastroenterologists Are Working Locum Tenens
Physician Shortage Creates Opportunities
(Edited from LocumTenens.com article by Recruitment Manager Lauren Brooks, 3/9/2022)
Many highly-specialized areas of medicine are experiencing the impact of the physician shortage, and this is especially true for gastroenterology. Gastroenterologists require many years of training, and there aren’t many graduating right now. Programs can only bring in so many fellows at a time, so programs have just two or three gastroenterologists on board, which simply exacerbates the issue.
This means healthcare facilities need to get creative about recruitment. It also means there are a lot of opportunities for locum tenens gastroenterologists.
A locum tenens model of employment is more appealing than ever for gastroenterologists. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Gastroenterologists can choose out-patient, in-patient, or on-call work.
Permanent, full-time employment at a healthcare facility, regardless of specialty, doesn’t often lend itself to flexibility. Many gastroenterologists who are permanently employed have to balance their time between out-patient procedures and in-patient procedures, and being on call. Working locum tenens gives them the freedom to choose how to use their time.
If a gastroenterologist wants to do procedures but doesn’t want to see patients in the clinic for follow-up, locum tenens recruiters can find them an assignment that only requires them to do procedures.
2. Locum tenens work allows gastroenterologists to replace or exceed their full-time salaries.
Many gastroenterologists are surprised to learn that their colleagues who are doing locum tenens work make just as much, if not more than, when they were working full-time for a healthcare facility.
One gastroenterologist I’m working with has replaced his full-time salary while working locum tenens one month on and one month off throughout the year. This flexibility has eased the burden of his job and erased his feeling of burnout. Because the intensive training required to join the specialty is expensive, being able to replace or exceed a full-time salary while working less time can be life-changing.
3. Working locum tenens affords gastroenterologists flexibility, work-life balance.
The pandemic has made many gastroenterologists reconsider how they want to work, and the flexibility of working locum tenens is more appealing than ever. Some choose locum tenens because recruiters can create call schedules for them each month, allowing them to balance their already-busy schedules.
This works out well for working parents especially. For example, I work with one gastroenterologist with a young child who only works on the days she has childcare. The locum tenens model of employment can accommodate a flexible lifestyle that permanent, full-time employment can’t.
4. Gastroenterologists are able to avoid overhead.
Because practices had to cancel elective colonoscopies, endoscopies, and other procedures at the beginning of the pandemic, many private practices closed their doors altogether or were bought by major hospitals or big groups.
Operating a private practice is expensive. For those gastroenterologists who don’t want the additional overhead that comes with uncertainty or owning a business, locum tenens work has become more appealing.
5. Working locum tenens allows gastroenterologists to maintain and expand their skill sets.
One of the gastroenterologists I work with is employed full-time by the VA, and his patients tend to be fairly healthy, so he isn’t seeing a wide variety of cases. This gastroenterologist chooses to work locum tenens to supplement his experience. Ever so often, he takes assignments within other clinical settings so he can stay up-to-date with the skills required to treat more complex cases.
Many gastroenterologists in similar situations don’t complete enough advanced endoscopy procedures in their case logs to maintain certification. By working locum tenens in different settings, they can maintain their certification and continue to practice at the same level.