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Locums are NOT the Future of the Healthcare Workforce

I recently attended the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR) Conference. There were breakout sessions sponsored and facilitated by locum agencies. The AAPPR conference is where provider recruiters annual attend to gain insights on future trends and learn innovative ways to source candidates. However, while attending a session on the future of the healthcare workforce, the data and recommendations of navigating future recruitment challenges were skewed to motivate organizations towards the use of locums - as the future of healthcare staffing. “Sus” as the future Gen Z providers would say! There are several reasons why physician locum tenens agencies can have negative influences on the future of physician recruitment and staffing, as well as patient care. Here are a few possible examples:

  1. Expensive: Locum tenens agencies charge a fee for their services, which can be quite expensive. This fee is often passed on to healthcare organizations, who may end up paying more than they would for a permanent physician hire. As a result, healthcare organizations may be less likely to use locum tenens agencies in the future, which can impact physician staffing.

  2. Lack of continuity of care: When a locum tenens physician is brought in to cover for a permanent physician, there is a risk that continuity of care will be disrupted. Patients may have to see a different physician each time they visit the office or hospital, which can be confusing and frustrating for them. This can also lead to errors in diagnosis or treatment if the locum tenens physician is not familiar with the patient's medical history.

  3. Quality of care: Locum tenens physicians may not have the same level of familiarity with the healthcare organization's policies, procedures, and protocols as a permanent physician would. This can lead to lower quality of care, as the locum tenens physician may not be able to provide the same level of personalized care that a permanent physician would.

  4. Lack of investment in physician recruitment: By relying on locum tenens agencies to fill temporary staffing needs, healthcare organizations may be less motivated to invest in physician recruitment and retention strategies. This can make it more difficult to attract and retain high-quality physicians, which can impact patient care in the long run.

  5. Lack of job security: Locum tenens physicians are typically hired on a temporary basis, which means they do not have job security or benefits. This can make it difficult for healthcare organizations to attract high-quality physicians who are looking for more stable employment opportunities.

Overall, while locum tenens agencies can be useful in certain situations like filling staffing gaps between permanent placements, they can also have negative impacts on physician recruitment and staffing, as well as patient care. Healthcare organizations should carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of using locum tenens agencies, and should prioritize strategies that promote long-term physician recruitment and retention.

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