Locums Digest #74 | More Docs are Embracing Work-Life Balance with Locums, Best Practices for Growing Your Locums Agency, NPs Choosing Specialty Work & More

The times, they are a’changin’

Welcome to Locums Digest 74, your source for the latest news of note in the world of locum tenens. In this edition, we bring you the news from a CHG study that shows more physicians who are changing careers are switching to locums, possibly portending even greater locum tenens growth to come.

Plus: SIA’s fantastic list of tips for growing an agency, a roundup of recent resources published by locums firms, more on the physician shortage, a spotlight on locums leaders, NP trends, and some can’t-miss webinars.

Let’s get digesting!

In Digest 74
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CHG: More career-changing physicians are choosing locums opportunities

June 10, 2024 | CHG Healthcare

Locum tenens work is becoming more popular among physicians interested in career changes. Of the 451 physicians who participated in a recent countrywide survey by CHG Healthcare, most (62%) had adjusted their careers in some significant way since February 2022. Of those, 44% reported working locums assignments full—or part-time, a sharp increase from 28% in their 2022 survey. Those now accepting side work prefer locums opportunities (60%) over moonlighting (40%).

The appeal of locum tenens is connected to what physicians reported wanting from a career change: Most sought a better work-life balance (51%) or a more flexible work schedule (34%). Others wanted a better workplace culture (29%) and compensation (27%).

The physicians most likely to have made a career change in the prior two years include emergency medicine (46%), psychiatry (45%), family medicine (41%), OB/GYN (39%), and surgery (39%). Those practicing internal medicine and pediatrics were the least likely to have made a career change.

Interestingly, only 8% of physicians reported retiring or leaving the clinical setting in the prior two years, compared with 11% in the 2022 survey. Those in the later stages of their career, defined in the survey as 26+ years of experience, are significantly more likely to cite a more flexible schedule (50%) as their primary motivation for a career change. 

La Vida Locum

LT.com: Locums offer unique benefits to community health centers

June 4, 2024 | LocumTenens.com 

Locum tenens providers can offer overused and under-resourced community health centers crucial long-term benefits. At a time when a significant proportion of the population does not have access to affordable healthcare, community health centers have become the primary option for many in the US, up to 1 in 11 patients, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. Yet staffing shortages and underfunding specific to community health centers leave many centers ill-equipped to handle the need. Strategic use of locums can address the biggest pain points. 

They are uniquely situated to do the following:

  • Ensure consistent care by filling staffing gaps
  • Reduce burnout and attrition among permanent staff
  • Free up permanent staff to focus on the big picture health of the community health center itself
  • Add value, as many agencies have expertise in areas that can maximize revenue, such as credentialing and billing

The strategic use of temporary providers has driven sustainable, long-term improvements in their operations,” said Juanita M. Tryon, chief executive officer of Bay Community Health in Maryland.

Medicus: Understanding state licensure rules and deadlines is key to locums success

June 6, 2024 | Medicus Healthcare Solutions 

One of the benefits of locum tenens—for both agency and practitioner—is that these temporary employees can come from anywhere. When there is a shortage of physicians, nurses, or other healthcare providers in one location, professionals from elsewhere can have a big impact by temporarily relocating and supporting continuity of care. So, it’s crucial that both agencies and practitioners are familiar with state-specific licensure requirements, deadlines, and fees.

Medicus Healthcare Solutions compiled a comprehensive list of every medical board/licensing authority, including contact information, deadlines, fees, and the average time to obtain licenses in each state. They also note which states are part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and where Federation Credentials Verifications Service is accepted or required.

Hayes: 4 critical risk management points to consider

June 7, 2024 | Hayes Locums

Agencies staffing locum tenens are uniquely positioned to help mitigate risk for both the provider and the client, which is important for patient care, reduced liability, and operational efficiency. According to Justin Shrader, VP of Risk Management at Hayes Locums, all participants in the healthcare community must consider risk management. 

Here are some points to consider:

  • Assign a health risk professional with the same credentials as their facility counterparts to help onboard locums according to the individual facility standards.
  • Recognize the value of locums providers who carry broad malpractice insurance to ensure seamless transitions, state to state and facility to facility.
  • Establish thorough vetting processes and clear expectations before hiring so the locums provider is set up for success on each assignment. 
  • Eliminate redundancies, craft a stronger onboarding process, and keep operational interruptions few and far between by listing tasks that must be completed before a provider begins a job.

Locum Leaders

Hayes Locums celebrates 12 years

June 18, 2024 | Hayes Locums 

Congratulations to Hayes Locums for 12 years of direct community impact as a locum tenens agency. In just over a decade, their team has grown from seven to a staff of more than 200, making thousands of provider-facility matches. Many of these placements carried extra importance, as when locums ensured patients in underserved areas had access to continued care and when they filled gaps during the pandemic. These placements have meant peace of mind for the medical facility, career growth for the practitioner, and quality patient attention.

All Star Healthcare Solutions CIO named finalist for leadership award

June 11, 2024 | All Star Healthcare Solutions 

In the locum tenens world, individual effort can mean major organizational change. The work of Mike Peterson in his role as chief information officer for All Star Healthcare Solutions, which specializes in part in locum tenens, was recognized as having that kind of effect for his company when he was named a finalist for the South Florida ORBIE Awards in the Corporate category. 

The ORBIE Awards highlight excellence in leadership, innovation, and operational expertise. All Star’s team sees all of this in Peterson. Chief Executive Officer and President Ken Berstein said, “Mike has made a tremendous impact on All Star, leading our exceptional Information Technology department through major upgrades and developments…to empower our people to more efficiently and effectively serve our providers, our clients, and each other.”

Locums leaders named to DE&I Influencers list

June 11, 2024 | Staffing Industry Analysts

Colin McDonald, chief human resources officer for Cross Country Healthcare, and Marie Kimble, vice president of talent acquisition and diversity, equity & inclusion at CHG Healthcare, are among the honorees on Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2024 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Influencers US and Canada list. The annual list recognizes innovation, relationship building, and education and communication contributions in the workforce solutions ecosystem. McDonald and Kimble are the only two on the list working directly in locum tenens staffing. 

According to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) President Ursula Williams, “Current headlines—and even SIA’s most recent research—show a disappointing decrease in time, attention and resources being spent on diversity, equity and inclusion.” She shared that SIA is “incredibly proud” of the 2024 influencers’ ability to combat these trends by making DE&I an imperative.

The honorees are featured on a dedicated site with profiles outlining their focus and achievements. According to the profile, this past year, McDonald launched an employee-led council dedicated to promoting DE&I at Cross Country to give employees of every background a chance to drive meaningful change together. He recognizes the vital business strategy that DE&I provides and has “ seen the transformative impact of inclusive practices on organizational performance and employee satisfaction.”

In her role, Kimble focuses on initiatives within corporate teams and advocates for DE&I in their staffing practices. According to the SIA profile, her team’s work has contributed to a 20% increase in retention within underrepresented groups and boosted the sense of belonging among key populations to above 90%. She personally champions the mission to prioritize matching doctors with positions in underserved areas to enhance healthcare access and patient outcomes.

Hire Power

As physician shortages worsen, reversing this trend must start now

June 14, 2024 | MedCityNews 

Predictions continue to reinforce that the healthcare workforce shortages will deeply impact service delivery—a physician shortage of 140,000 by 2036, not to mention a nursing shortage in 42 of the 50 states by 2030—unless we act immediately with a multipronged approach. MedCityNews recently published their thoughts focused on the following priorities:

  • Improve workplace experiences with an eye on retaining staff, including helping individuals spot early signs of burnout and avoid it while also providing a seat for discussing new policies and processes to increase adoption.
  • Streamline technology and administrative tasks within the hiring and day-to-day healthcare work to increase productivity, reduce burnout, and enable providers to see patients more quickly.
  • Support proposed legislation that could increase the number of qualified healthcare workers, including a proposal to make it easier for internationally trained healthcare workers to overcome barriers and separate initiatives that would lower medical education costs, making it more accessible to study to become a doctor, nurse, or other practitioner.
  • Strengthen recruitment efforts to excite young minds and those considering a change to explore a path toward a healthcare career.

Upcoming webinar: ‘Understand Your Customer: Medical Groups 101’

July 25, 2024, 1–2 p.m. ET | Advisory Board 

This free one-hour webinar, “Understand Your Customer: Medical Groups 101,” will inform attendees about market forces that impact the medical group landscape, similarities and differences between corporate medical groups, and strategies for partnering with and competing against those groups.

Hosted by Advisory Board, attendees will learn from industry leaders Eliza Dailey and Colleen Wagner. In her role, Dailey leads research on changes in the physician landscape and medical group strategies; as an analyst, Wagner focuses on key topics such as physician integration.

Upcoming webinar: ‘The Art of Client Engagement: Effective Communication Strategies’

July 25, 2024, 3 p.m. ET | Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (APPR) Academy

In this no-cost webinar, “The Art of Client Engagement: Effective Communication Strategies,” Brandon Byars of the Byars Consulting Group will share guidance from his more than two decades of experience in strategic planning, recruitment, and talent development to help attendees use communication to improve client satisfaction. 

As part of the APPR Academy, the Northwest Staff Physician Recruiters presents this session with a former physician recruiter who will share practical techniques in diverse and transparent communication strategies, including active listening. 

Making the Rounds

SIA: 5 best practices for healthcare staffing firm growth

June 11, 2024 | Staffing Industry Analysts 

In its report “Best Practices to Grow a Healthcare Staffing Firm,” Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) recommends five growth ideas for growth healthcare staffing firm owners and executives should consider:

  • Specialize. Claiming a niche, like focusing on locum tenens or even a specific practice area, allows firms to strengthen their expertise in trends, regulations, and recruitment.
  • Have a growth marketing mindset. Marketing can no longer be all about top-of-funnel activities but must consider the integration of the entire pipeline.
  • Be active on social media. This includes judiciously tagging potential clients when sharing market insights and encouraging staff to connect with their healthcare network and share brand-related updates.
  • Plan your tech. Firms must be prepared and organized with their tech stack to take advantage of new technology, such as ChatGPT while streamlining the broader ecosystem of applications and solutions.
  • Measure a small number of key metrics. Beginning with two to four pieces of information for any role will ensure the data quality that is most needed and then expand by one or two metrics at a time.

Additional research reports on each topic are available to SIA members.

NPs are choosing specialty work, leaving shortages in primary care

June 17, 2024 | KFF Health News

One recent study from The Physicians Foundation finds that most nurse practitioners (NPs) choose to work in a specialty field rather than primary care. Unlike doctors, NPs generally do not need to seek additional endorsements to move into specialty care, and they find annual salaries that are an average of $6,000 higher than what they could earn in primary care. 

The occupation of NP is projected to grow by nearly 50%, adding almost 124,000 jobs in under a decade, meaning it should be able to meet the growing need for primary care. Still, Atul Grover, executive director of the Research and Action Institute at the Association of American Medical Colleges, said he expects more NPs “to also flow out into other specialties.”

American College of Physicians urges healthy skepticism, balance when incorporating AI into healthcare

June 5, 2024 | Medical Economics 

A new position paper by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine says that artificial intelligence (AI) should support the work of physicians and other clinicians, not replace it. “AI has the potential to aid in solving some of the issues currently plaguing the health care industry, such as clinician shortages, burnout, and administrative burdens,” ACP President Isaac O. Opole wrote in a news release about the publication. “However, to ensure that we are able to realize the most benefit, with the fewest harms to patients, we need to fully understand the implications of the technology that we are implementing.” 

The paper includes considerations for medical practitioners, lawmakers, and patients who are thinking about AI use in healthcare, such as patient privacy must be prioritized; AI must be used to improve, not worsen, disparities in healthcare; and training in using AI must be part of a clinician’s education throughout their years of practice, not as a one-time aside.

New AMA president urges focus on burnout: ‘We cannot afford to lose even one more doctor!’

June 11, 2024 | American Medical Association 

At the June meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA), new president Bruce A. Scott, MD, was sworn in and delivered a rousing address to the attendees, calling for greater focus on fighting physician burnout, no matter the reason.

“I see my colleagues struggling,” he said. “I feel the urgency of the moment, and I will bring that urgency to my presidency. You better believe I’m ready to fight. Fight for you. Fight for us. Fight for our profession. Fight for our patients.” He said later, “We cannot afford to lose even one more doctor!”

Scott recognizes the importance of healthcare systems helping physicians provide good care, not getting in the way. “Physicians are struggling with two decades of spiraling Medicare payment cuts and ever-increasing administrative burdens. These concerns are no longer theoretical.” 

Scott has been a leader in medicine throughout his career and a member of the AMA House of Delegates (HOD) for over 25 years. First elected speaker of the AMA HOD in 2019, he previously served as vice speaker and joined the AMA Board of Trustees in 2015. He is a private practice otolaryngologist in Louisville, Kentucky, and previously served as president of the Kentucky Medical Association. 

Dollar General latest in retail stores to close clinics

June 3, 2024 | Healthcare Brew

Retailer Dollar General ended its 18-month pilot program with DocGo, a mobile care provider, on May 31. Together, they offered mobile health clinics with basic, preventive, and urgent care services at three Dollar General stores in Tennessee. With these closures, fewer primary care options exist, especially in rural communities.

Timothy Hoff, a professor of management, healthcare systems, and health policy at Northeastern University, suggested that it is generally difficult for companies to add a major healthcare component sustainably, which may be why large organizations are retrenching and pulling back. 

The Dollar General news follows Walmart’s announcement a month earlier that it would close all 51 primary care clinics and virtual care services that were part of its Walmart Health initiative.

Hal Andrews, president and CEO of healthcare analytics firm Trilliant Health, previously stated that Walmart and Dollar General are the only US retailers “with the scale to deliver a consistent quality primary care experience at scale to rural America.” 

With Walgreens announcing closures in April, primary care initiatives within pharmacy locations have also faced challenges. There are also reports that CVS has begun looking for a private equity partner to fund Oak Street Health, a primary care clinic operator under the CVS umbrella, for just over a year.

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