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May 17, 2019
June 27, 2022

Doctors are moving away from private practice, ownership and self-employment to streamlined employment.

According to a recently updated study by the American Medical Association (AMA), 47.4% of all patient care physicians were employed or physicians that work in a larger practice or healthcare system. This is a change of 6% since 2012. Self-employed physicians and practice owners constituted only 45.9% of all patient care physicians, a number that is down 7% from 2012.This has been a long-term trend in physician employment, as doctor's move away from ownership of a private practice. The study notes that younger physicians and women are more likely to be employed. Many of the employed physicians (34.7%) work directly for a hospital or in a practice owned, in whole or in part, by a hospital.

The Benefits of Being an Employed Physician often Parallel the Benefits of Working Locum Tenens

These factors that make employment appealing for a physician looking to spend more time practicing medicine and having a life beyond their career, also apply to physicians working in locum tenens positions. These include:

  • Financial Security: Markets are volatile. There's less risk for an employed physician than a self-employed physician. Financial security is a tremendous advantage, especially for younger doctors struggling to pay down student debt, which can reach $300,000 or more. Similarly, locum tenens physicians have more control over their income by choosing when and where they want to practice, along with rate negotiation.
  • Predictable Work Hours: As many business owners can attest, owning a business means you may have to work long and irregular hours. Employed physicians may need to work extended hours, but you do have more control and predictability. In fact, nearly one-third of business owners typically work more than 50 hours a week. Not only are locums tenens hours predictable, but physicians get the freedom to choose the shifts they work.
  • Less Administrative Work: Self-employment and business ownership requires expanded responsibilities. This includes marketing, human resources, managing angry and unhappy patients/vendors, dealing with employees and handling finances. Most medical staff entered medicine to treat patients, not deal with paperwork. Locum tenens physicians have the opportunity to practice medicine, not business.

Looking Beyond the Numbers

As appealing as these reasons are to physicians, there are still challenges as an employed physician.

A lack of freedom and control, for example, is a struggle for many doctors working for a practice or in a hospital system. For younger physicians with less tenure than co-workers this can mean making sacrifices, taking the worst shifts or managing the least appealing jobs.

The politics in a hospital system or larger practice can also be brutal. Fundraising, working with less-qualified managers, or dealing with constantly changing processes or regulations can lead many physicians to burn out.

This is why more and more physicians are turning to locum tenens employment. Locum tenens physicians have all the benefits of an employed physician - the financial security, predictable work hours and fewer administrative tasks.

Locum tenens physicians also have more freedom -- not only in where and how they are employed but also freedom from time-consuming politics that can dominate the workplace/workday.

If you'd like to learn more about locum tenens employment or see how you can take control of your career, then contact a recruiter today to learn more.