Just like the medical industry itself, trends in physician recruiting are constantly changing. This reflects adjustments in the demand for particular specialties. As such, locum tenens clinicians can use this information to plan their assignments for the year ahead.
Which Fields are in the Highest Demand?
In 2018, five fields stood out as being in highest demand, according to a report by national healthcare search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins, and this trend should continue into the first part of 2019:
1. Family Medicine
Family medicine practitioners take care of people of all ages, and often serve as primary care providers (PCPs). This specialty has topped the list for the last 12 years, according to Merritt Hawkins. The organization predicts the steady demand is partly due to population growth, evolving healthcare delivery models and health system consolidation. Although the demand for family medicine remains high, it may be shifting, as Merritt Hawkins saw a decline in the number of “family medicine” searches in 2018.
2. Internal Medicine
Behind family physicians, employers are most in need of internal medicine practitioners, according to a 2018 Doximity report. Although similar to family medicine, these physicians focus primarily on adult care. Therefore, similar factors are driving the demand for both specialities.
However, the Merritt Hawkins report states that internal medicine is also difficult to recruit. In fact, only about 20-25% of residents go on to practice general internal medicine today, compared to 54% in 1998. This can be an advantage for locum tenens clinicians searching for assignments in this area.
Psychiatrists are also in high demand, reflecting a severe shortage of mental health professionals nationwide. This is partly due to increasing mental health needs in the U.S. Nearly one in five adults (43.8 million people) experience mental illness in a given year, yet there are only about 28,000 psychiatrists in the U.S. Another factor is an aging workforce, as close to 60% of current psychiatrists are 55 years of age or older and nearing retirement.
Just a few years ago, the demand for radiologists was low due to a surplus of residents in the field and changes in imaging practices. Today, however, technological improvements, an aging population of both patients and physicians, and a stronger economy have combined to drive a growth rate of 7.3% per year. This makes 2019 a great year to seek placement for radiologists working locum tenens.
5. Obstetrics and Gynecology
This specialty makes the list due to a substantial gap between supply and demand. According to a Doximity report, there are a number of factors causing this gap, including high maternity workloads, an aging workforce and the prevalence of private vs. government insurance coverage.
For this reason, the American College of Gynecology (ACOG) predicts there will be a need for up to 8,800 obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYNs) by 2020, and a shortage of up to 22,000 by 2050. Yet, women's health care is expected to grow by 6% by 2020. Based on these numbers, OB-GYN will be a thriving specialty for locum tenens clinicians searching for assignments in 2019.
If you are in one of these top medical specialties of 2019, you can look forward to expanded possibilities for locum tenens work. Many facilities will be looking for practitioners to temporarily take the place of clinicians who have gone on vacation, moved to other facilities, or have otherwise left vacancies. Sign-on bonuses, expanded opportunities for negotiation, and more benefits await you.
Work with a Locum Tenens Agency to Find the Best Opportunities
While there are plenty of opportunities available in 2019, working with a locum tenens agency can increase your chances of finding the perfect job. Working with VISTA, for example, will save you from having to discover assignments and connect with facilities on your own, plus we can streamline the hiring process for you. Regardless of your specialty, you'll soon be on your way to finding and obtaining the locum tenens position that best suits your needs and desires.