10% of hospitalists work as locum tenens

One in ten hospitalists is working as locum tenens, and many do so in addition to their full-time job, according to a new study by recruitment firm Locum Leaders and Today's Hospitalist magazine, released yesterday.

In a survey of 750 respondents, 10 percent of hospitalists reported working as locum tenens in contracted or temporary positions during the past year. Of those, most of them (82 percent) take on the extra work in addition to full-time employment. Seven percent have part-time employment but also work as locum tenens, and another 11 percent work exclusively as self-employed locums.

"Hospital Medicine shift patterns are the biggest reason," said Locum Leaders Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Harrington in a press release yesterday. "Since most hospitalist programs rely on a 7-on, 7-off schedule, you end up with a large population of doctors who have a lot of time-off. They want to use that time productively..."

In addition to wanting to make the most of their time, hospitalists may be taking work as locums for financial reasons, especially if they are younger providers with debt on their hands, according to Harrington. Seventy-seven percent who work as locums cited compensation as the biggest motivator for locum work.

The survey highlights a trend that might have hospital administrators wondering if their hospitalists are stretching themselves too thin. For example, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in April found that academic hospitalists, in particular, experience high levels of stress (67 percent) and burnout (23 percent). However, they were generally very satisfied with their jobs.

There are 30,000 hospitalists in the country as of 2010, according to the Society of Hospital Medicine data, reports Locum Leaders.

For more information:
- read the press release
- check out the survey (.pdf)

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