5 Benefits Locum Tenens Nurse Practitioners Bring to Your Organization
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were not enough physicians to truly care for all the citizens in the United States. The physician shortage continues to worsen every year with a projected shortage of up to 139,000 providers by the year 2033 in the U.S. As the population continues to grow, age, and develop more complex and chronic health concerns, this shortage will continue to worsen and eventually impact patient outcomes. So, what can be done about it?
While fewer people are registering for and graduating from medical school, the number of physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) is growing by about 10,000 every year. This consists of a variety of specialties and positions of practice, including locum tenens providers.
Up to 90 percent of healthcare organizations use locum tenens providers in the U.S., some more than others. There are an estimated 50,000 providers on locum tenens assignments at one time, caring for up to 7.5 million patients. With these extra providers, there is a huge difference in the care disparities among patients as well as an improvement to the physician shortage.
What Is a Locum Tenens Provider?
A locum tenens provider is simply a provider who works temporarily for a practice or healthcare organization. This can be compared to traveling nurses or PRN (pro re nata) staff, in that they fill a temporary need for a specified amount of time. Locum tenens providers can stay with one organization for an extended period of time, or move all over the country, staying in organizations for shorter time frames. For example, they may cover a brief opening such as a provider on maternity leave or while training a new hire. They can work full-time or part-time hours, find placement in a variety of specialties, and hold varying levels of expertise.
They can also include many types of healthcare providers including physicians, PAs, NPs, and more.
Why a Nurse Practitioner?
About 16% of locum tenens providers in the U.S. are NPs. NPs can be either master’s or doctorate-prepared and function in a variety of specialties including primary care, acute care, and pediatrics, among others.
Compared to other providers, NPs are uniquely positioned to serve as leaders of patient care teams. NPs have demonstrated improved coordination of care, overall enhanced patient satisfaction, and more efficient use of medical resources. They are also more cost-effective, not only in their own practice, but with their treatment plans for patients as well.
In a number of research studies and literature reviews, NPs have been shown to have better patient outcomes than physicians in most circumstances, especially in primary care. Some examples include cholesterol management, diabetic care, and fewer emergency room visits. When choosing a locum tenens provider, NPs stand out for their leadership skills, improved patient outcomes, and adaptability.
The 5 Benefits of Bringing on a Locum Tenens Nurse Practitioner
Staffing locum tenens NPs has been shown to save organizations a large amount of money every year. It’s estimated that each provider costs up to $60,000 just for things such as benefits, which are not included for locum tenens providers from the organization. Locum tenens providers do not need as much training as these new providers due to their experience with adapting to new environments of practice. Training a new full-time provider can cost the organization almost $120,000. Using a locum tenens provider can save the organization nearly $180,000 every year.
Increased Patient Hours
Locum tenens NPs can provide up to 40 extra patient hours per week, offering a whole new set of scheduling times for patients. Because of this schedule flexibility, patients are able to be seen much sooner for acute concerns instead of waiting for their provider to have an opening, which can sometimes take weeks or even months. This also allows all providers to spend more time with their patients since their schedules aren’t as packed – raising staff and patient satisfaction rates.
Better Staff Satisfaction
Having extra providers to help with patient hours will always help team members feel less stressed and overwhelmed. This, in turn, will help prevent provider burnout and turnover, which also saves the organization tens of thousands of dollars every year.
More Time for Administrative Personnel
Managers and medical directors have much more time to devote to their managerial duties when they aren’t spending all their time trying to recruit new full-time employees. This helps the organization’s day-to-day operations run smoothly for everyone, including providers and their patients.
Improved patient outcomes
Patient outcomes improve with more scheduling flexibility, increased time with providers, and enhanced job satisfaction of other employees in the organization.
Learn more about the pros and cons of locum tenens.