|Staff Care Survey: 77 Percent Of Hospitals Report Using Physician ‘Temps’
Physician "temps" are now used by the majority of hospitals in the U.S., a new survey indicates.
Conducted by Staff Care, a temporary physician staffing
company, the survey looked at the use of temp physicians at 730
hospitals and medical groups.
Over three-quarters of those surveyed said their
facilities had used temporary physicians within the last 12 months,
while 54 percent said their facilities currently are seeking temp
physicians. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations typically use
temp physicians to fill in when there are gaps in the permanent staff,
the survey said.
Temp "doctors are the Lone Rangers of medicine," said
Joseph Caldwell, president of Staff Care. "They ride into town, take
care of people in need, then they ride off to their next assignment."
According to Caldwell, temp physicians work temporary
assignments that can last from a few days up to a year. Some temp
physicians may work just one or two temporary assignments a year, while
others may work a dozen assignments or more, Caldwell said.
Demand Grows By Over 20%
The survey also tracked which types of doctors are in
most demand as temps based on the kind of temporary physicians Staff
Care’s clients requested in 2007.
Primary care physicians (i.e., family practitioners,
general internists and pediatricians) topped the list of the most
requested medical specialties, followed by anesthesia providers,
behavioral health professionals, radiologists and surgeons.
In 2007, the number of requests Staff Care received to
fill temporary "physician days" increased by over 20 percent over 2006.
According to Caldwell, demand for temporary physicians is being driven
by a national doctor shortage, which has left gaps in the permanent
staffs of many hospitals and medical groups.
Quality of Care
The survey asked hospital and medical group managers to
assess the general skill level of temps physicians. Seventy-six percent
of those surveyed rated the skill level of temp physicians as either
"good" or "excellent," while 22 percent rated their skill level as
"adequate." Only two percent of those surveyed rated the skill level of
temp physicians as "unsatisfactory."
In the same survey, Staff Care asked over 800 physicians
who work as temps about their temporary work experiences. Nineteen
percent said they find temporary assignments to be more satisfying than
permanent practice, 14 percent find temporary assignments to be less
satisfying than permanent practice, while the majority (67 percent)
find temporary assignments and permanent practice to be equally
Address: Staff Care, 5001 Statesman Dr., Irving, TX 75063: (469) 524-1473, www.staffcare.com.