Survey Shows More Clinicians Are Working Locum Tenens Than Ever Before

May 6, 2024
Clinicians surveyed mentioned schedule flexibility and burnout as top reasons why they are opting to work temporary positions rather than permanent ones.

According to a new survey by AMN Healthcare, “physicians and advanced practice professionals are opting for the flexibility of temporary, ‘locum tenens’ work in order to improve job conditions and address feelings of burnout.”

Locum tenens “refers to physicians and other clinicians who work on temporary assignments that can range from a few days to up to a year.” The survey specifically sought to determine why physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs) who worked locum tenens opted to do so.

86% of those surveyed cited wanting to “obtain a better work schedule” as their main reason, which had the highest response rate. The second most frequent response, at 80% of those surveyed, “was to address feelings of burnout.” Plus, close to half of those surveyed at 47% “said that locum tenens work is more satisfying than working in a permanent position, while only 12% said that a permanent position is more satisfying than locum tenens. Ninety-five percent rated their morale level working locum tenens is either high or moderate, while only 5% rated their morale level as low.”

45% of those surveyed “said they would stop working locum tenens and return to a permanent position if schedules, compensation, and other practice conditions were favorable, while a similar number (43%) said they would stick to locum tenens.” Additionally, “virtually all of those surveyed (97%) rated ‘freedom/flexibility’ as a most rewarding or moderately rewarding aspect of locum tenens.” 52% of locum tenens physicians, NPs, and PAs are women.

Another takeaway from the survey is that clinicians are “choosing to work locum tenens earlier in their careers. The majority of those surveyed (81%) said they began working locum tenens either right out of training or in mid-career, while 19% said they began working locum tenens after retiring from full-time positions. In 2016, by contrast, only 64% of those surveyed began working locum tenens right after training or in mid-career, while 36% began after retirement.”

The number of physicians working locum tenens annually has grown “from an estimated 26,000 in 2002 to over 52,000 today.”

About the Author

Matt MacKenzie | Associate Editor

Matt is Associate Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News.

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