The physician workforce is evolving and the locum tenens workforce is growing. A few months ago we published the article: Why more physicians are considering a locum tenens career. We noted that regardless of why or how a physician vacancy exists, healthcare facilities have to maintain patient care quality – so they regularly hire part-time or temporary locum tenens physicians to fill the gap. Several recent surveys, including one from The Physician Foundation, found that 46% of doctors will change their practice styles within three years and 9% plan to work locum tenens.
Because facilities are likely to recruit temporary physicians – and your candidates are likely to ask about locum tenens positions – Doximity conducted a physician survey specific to locum tenens. We analyzed physician behavior as indicators of interest about locums and there were a few surprises.
1. Mobile app users are 50% more interested in locums positions than web users.
Recent reports have shown that as many as nine in ten healthcare providers are using smartphones, and nearly as many have adopted tablets. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 U.S. doctors is using an iPhone 6 – and they’re finding creative ways to integrate them into patient interactions and other aspects of medicine – so it’s only natural that physicians are using mobile apps to search for locums assignments, too.
2. Younger doctors are more likely to click on a locum tenens job, but older doctors more likely to apply.
Experienced physicians are also more likely to already be working in locum positions.
3. The more state licenses, the better.
For obvious reasons, physicians who are licensed in multiple states are more likely to take locums positions.
4. Interest in locum tenens varies greatly by state.
We examined physician interest in locum tenens depending on their current practice location and the results were surprising in some cases. We saw relative differences from the average reply rate ranging from -67% for Montana, to 120% (the highest) for New York.
5. Who you know really does matter!
Physicians who had a higher percentage of colleagues within the same state were more likely to be interested in locums opportunities within their own state. Physicians with a higher percentage of colleagues outside of their home state were more likely to travel for locum tenens opportunities.
6. Personalization of recruitment outreach is a clear barometer for interest in locum tenens positions.
We reinforce personalization at every turn, so this one didn't surprise us. Here are two examples of DocMails that had a Click-Thru Rate (CTR) of 28% and 25% respectively. Note the extent of personalization, based on a thorough reading of a physician candidate’s profile (in bold):
I hope this message finds you well! I’m hoping you might have a minute to consider a locums Emergency Medicine opportunity in nearby Sarasota? The opening I have is flexible short-term coverage within driving distance of your currently listed practice location. Pay is always direct deposit and the Florida Keys are just 45 minutes away. Does this sound like something you might be interested in?
I hope this message finds you well and not too hot in Salt Lake City! I noticed your Assistant Professorship at the University of Utah and was impressed by your extensive awards and publications, as well as your considerable experience in Emergency Medicine. My team asked me to reach out to see if you would consider a locums Emergency Medicine opportunity on the western coast of Florida?
The medical profession is full of uncertainty and "filling in" may be a new way of life for physicians who want a more flexible and higher paying lifestyle.
In past years, many physicians took locum tenens assignments after they sold their practice, or were in quasi-retirement but still working as locums. That demographic has changed significantly. Among the many pros of working as a locum tenens, working locum physicians often speak of these specific benefits:
- Physicians are exposed to different patient populations and learn all kinds of new things.
- It’s a great way for young physicians to try different practice settings before settling into a long-term position.
- Locums work can be quite lucrative if you find the right assignments.
- No matter how unpleasant a locums assignment is, it will end, and physicians are then free to leave.
Sure, there are some disadvantages to locum tenens (physicians may sometimes feel like they live out of a suitcase), but the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages for many physicians. Overall, locum tenens work can provide the kind of practice freedom that many physicians crave.
If you’re recruiting for locums positions, we recommend you introduce candidates to a physician who’s happily working locums. If they’ve made the switch, they’re likely to speak of more direct-patient care and less political drama. Many physicians think locum tenens may even solve physician burnout.
The age factor in recruiting physicians for locum assignments was so interesting we’ll write an additional post about it. In the meantime, we recommend you consider two key takeaways from this survey about recruiting for locum tenens opportunities:
1. Personalization is king
2. Location matters
If you’re not posting your locum tenens and/or permanent assignments with Doximity Talent Finder, we invite you to try a free demo and learn how to post your jobs now.