Hospitals, practices using locum tenens physicians more often

In what some deem a troubling sign that the primary care physician shortage is getting worse, a growing number of hospitals and practices are working through temp agencies to get their staffing needs met. As has always been the case, physicians are choosing the locum tenens option for their own reasons, including the flexibility of not having to maintain their own office, the ability to experiment with different regions and facilities, and the ability to limit how many hours they work.

However, hospitals and medical practices seem to be facing a new squeeze forcing them to change their habits. According to a survey by doctor temp-agency Staff Care, spending on temp doctors across the U.S. has more than doubled since 2001, and the number of days worked by physicians as temps has grown by 20 percent between 2006 and 2007 alone. Observers say a growing demand for primary care physicians is helping to fuel this boom.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece