The physician shortage in the United States is not going away anytime soon. New data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) supports previous estimates, projecting shortfalls between 46,900 and 121,900 doctors by 2032. That means job opportunities will always be abundant, and a career in locum tenens can open doors wherever you want to go—so when looking ahead to future work, the choice is truly yours.
When deciding on your next position as a locum tenens clinician, remember that you have the power to make an enormous impact, especially in under-served rural communities. Consider the following.
The Need is Dire in Rural America
Particularly as our population continues to age, rural areas are up against the perfect storm—a combination of retiring doctors, younger doctors staying in urban or suburban settings, and older patients. They need more services and specialty care. For some rural communities, lack of access to care presents a dangerous problem. Facilities may not have enough doctors on staff or lack a particular specialist entirely.
Locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners can step in and make an immediate impact in these areas by improving the quality of care available. Locum tenens clinicians help provide relief to health care teams, feeling the stress of high caseloads, cut down on patient wait times, and deliver, in some cases, life-saving care.
Appreciative Populations, Familiar Faces
Rural areas also present opportunities to give back to populations with specific needs and unique challenges. On previous blogs, we discussed the benefits of supporting our country’s veterans with the VA or taking on work with the Indian Health Service (IHS). No matter what you decide, working in a smaller town can mean steady work from familiar faces and patients who appreciate your care.
At VISTA, we frequently hear from doctors placed in rural settings that more exposure results in greater closeness to their patients—not to mention referrals to family members and friends. Rural locum tenens work allows you to interact with your patients in meaningful ways and build long-term connections, compared to busier urban settings where you may treat patients just once.
Need More Reasons?
There are various other arguments for rural over urban locum tenens life, such as shorter commutes and more time in the great outdoors. A position in a rural setting can mean a chance to slow down while getting involved in the local community.