In January, U.S. News & World Report issued its list of the Best Jobs of 2016. Editors based the rankings on a variety of criteria, including growth potential, work/life balance, wages, and employment rates. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone working in healthcare that medical professions dominated the list, claiming nine out of the top 10 spots.
- Orthodontist (#1)
- Dentist (#2)
- Nurse Anesthetist (#4)
- Physician Assistant (#5)
- Nurse Practitioner (#6)
- Psychiatrist (#7)
- Pediatrician (#8)
- Anesthesiologist (#9)
- Obstetrician and Gynecologist (#10)
Although locum tenens demand was not a consideration weighed by the editors, it’s no coincidence these top jobs are also some of the most sought-after locum tenens specialties, including nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). Indeed, over the past few years, short-term opportunities for advanced practice providers have grown exponentially.
“Word is catching on that there are benefits to bringing in NPs and PAs, which includes maintaining patient loads and delivering quality care,” says Carolyn House, a consultant on Weatherby Healthcare’s advanced practice team.
Advanced practice providers have been part of the medical scene for decades. However, their value has really risen recently. As demands on physicians in acute care, outpatient, and office settings increase, various duties are being delegated to midlevel providers.
“More and more facilities have decided certain procedures don’t always have to be conducted by physicians. NPs and PAs can fulfill many of those roles and provide quality care,” House says.
This staffing mix has generated greater potential for NPs and PAs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both should experience “faster than average” job growth over the next eight years: Opportunities for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners as a group are forecasted to increase by nearly one-third, and PAs by 30 percent.
Of course, when there’s an expanding need overall, there’s often an equivalent rise in locum tenens jobs.
“Facility administrators are noticing the positive effects of using locum tenens advanced practice providers and, as a result, other facilities are seeing how they could benefit from temporarily bringing in NPs and PAs,” House says.
And as with the physician side of locum tenens, certain practice specialties are perennial favorites.
“Our NP and PA core specialties always in demand include family medicine, hospitalist, emergency medicine, and urgent care. However, we also do assignments outside of those core specialties, such as surgical placements for physician assistants,” House says.
Interest in accepting short-term opportunities among advanced practice providers is on the rise, too.
“As word about locum tenens grows among NPs and PAs, people who may have been interested but were unsure are now choosing to work with us,” House says. “They see we’re placing people in settings where they’re qualified and comfortable to practice. Plus, we handle their travel and housing. We offer them Red Ribbon Service, and that stands out.”
In many ways, getting started in locum tenens is the same for both advanced practice providers and physicians. Everyone undergoes credentialing, in which educational and professional backgrounds are verified. Also, licenses must be secured for out-of-state assignments as well as hospital privileges.
“We have a team here that handles much of that for our providers. Once they are credentialed by Weatherby Healthcare, we pre-fill much of that information for new assignments. Providers just have to review the information, fill in what we legally can’t, and sign. When people realize we’re facilitating that for them, it’s a huge weight taken off of their shoulders so they can focus on patient care,” House says.
One way advanced practice providers differ from physicians is that they become employees of the staffing company, which can pay off in their favor.
“As Weatherby Healthcare employees, they are paid hourly, and anything over 40 hours a week is overtime. This makes a significant difference,” House says.
But the best news for NPs and PAs is that expectations for future locum tenens opportunities remain high.
“The trend looks positive,” House concludes. “Demand will be growing quite strong for quite some time.”