Recruitment continues to be a major challenge for hospitals. Across the country, there is a shortage of skilled workers to fill the essential roles. Studies estimate a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in the coming years. To solve the problem, many hospitals are turning to the hiring of locums. Locum tenens are reserved spaces or temporary doctors, nurses or other medical personnel. These substitutes help provide coverage in the event of vacation, illness or general staff shortages.

The tenens substitute backwards
Locum tenens is not bad at all. Many rural hospitals are turning to temporary doctors and staff to treat patients. Patients may have a shorter length of stay and the hospital may reduce the number of LWBS. There are also advantages for doctors who prefer flexibility, short contracts and a nomadic lifestyle. Still, in the grand scheme of things, locum tenens does not solve long-term recruitment problems. Here are 3 reasons why.

  1. The long term cost can be irreparable
    Temporary staff often need higher wages and other incentives to work on the fly. As the hospital saves money at one end, more revenue competes with other hospitals for staff. The costs of Locum tenens recruitment agencies also add up. If hospitals include the time wasted for placeholder staff to learn the ropes, the loss may be irreversible. Hospitals should consider investing in telecom management, telemedicine or advanced practice providers. As a result of these changes, hospitals have a more reliable workforce. Locum tenens will be free.
  2. Teamwork makes the dream work
    Locum tenens staff often come to work for a short period. While these members add expertise, most don’t have time to fit into the team. Others may perform tasks based on prior knowledge, contradicting the hospital’s mission and vision. Team chemistry may not be quantifiable but has intrinsic value. A lack of teamwork can increase readmissions and length of stay, thereby increasing hospital costs.
  3. Reduces the quality of patient care
    Quality of care is a critical measure for hospitals. Income depends on the flow of customers. Recruitment challenges mean a longer wait and length of stay. At the same time, some patients expect consistency. For example, in rural hospitals, patients see a well-known local doctor. Constant changes can mean an inconsistent level of care.

Focus on the right long-term solutions
Today’s hospitals are struggling to reach the staffing levels needed to serve patients. Of course, there is a temptation to rely on locum physicians and support staff. The process puts a skilled person in front of a patient. However, there are cost and quality issues that can pose a danger to hospitals. There are more robust actions that can complement or replace alternates. These include telemedicine, remote case management, the hiring of certain APPs and hospitalists. Hospitals can then form an environment to meet recruitment challenges.