By the mid-2030s, the majority of the population will be aged 65 years old or older—for the first time in the history of the United States. Not only will most of the population be retiring from the workforce, but the effects of the provider shortage may be peaking. These two trends combined will be catastrophic. Check out some of the major causes of the physician shortage below and how locum tenens can help alleviate gaps in healthcare coverage.
Over 30% of physicians are currently 60 or older. A recent study by American Medical Association found that about 20% of physicians were planning on leaving their current practice in the next two years. For nurses, the average age is 50, which indicates that a large number will exit the workforce by 2035.
The time and cost of becoming a healthcare provider has played an increasingly large role in the shortage. Specifically, the number of residency slots have not kept up with the demand to ensure that doctors are able to complete necessary training in a timely manner. Nursing school enrollment has only seen a 3 to 4% increase since 2021, which is not adequate for the state of the workforce. Nursing schools have turned down upwards of 90,000 applicants due to a lack of funding.
Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians disproportionately have a higher rate of burnout than other demanding professions. In 2020, the percentage of nurses who felt burnout rose to 62%. Burnout has also been linked directly to patient safety and quality of patient care.
The Locums Solution
With the option of locum tenens, healthcare providers are able to retire from their permanent job. Providers can become contractors and do locums at their leisure.
The cost of schooling can be a very large barrier for many people pursuing healthcare degrees. With locum tenens, providers have the ability to maximize their income on a contractual basis through high-paying assignments, completion bonuses, and more.
Shift types, the option of call, cases covered can all be negotiated depending on the locum assignment. Providers have the opportunity to explore different work environments, whether that be small rural hospitals or a level 1 trauma center in a large metropolitan area.