Locum Tenens Trends for 2023

Posted by:
Covelo Direct

Healthcare in the U.S. has gone through some major shifts since early 2020, with physician shortages making locum tenens more vital than ever to the healthcare industry. As we welcome 2023, here are a few important locum tenens trends our Covelo Direct senior recruiters have identified:

Demand for behavioral health specialties

During the past few years, individuals in the U.S. and around the globe have faced significant disturbances to their normal routines. From their schooling to their professions, and even to their personal and familial relationships, the disruption was far-reaching.

These pressures have led to increased cases of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse in America. Mental health specialists have witnessed soaring rates of mental illness among children, adolescents, and adults alike.

At Covelo Direct, our recruiters are seeing a corresponding increase in the demand for physicians with psychiatric specialties to help treat patients. There are currently broad locum tenens opportunities for psychiatrists and other providers specializing in mental and behavioral health.

Our recruiters also report a recent increase in locum tenens demand for primary care physicians and obstetrics specialists, as there is a shortage of new physicians to replace those who are transitioning to retirement.

Decreased need for telehealth

From 2020 through early 2022, many clinics treated their non-emergent patients by virtual appointments to mitigate the spread of pathogens. For that period of time, many of the locum tenens opportunities we were seeing were for telehealth physicians. This was a fantastic option for locums physicians who had home offices and preferred not to travel for assignments.

By mid-2022, most healthcare facilities were back to business as usual and phasing out telehealth appointments. By now, clinics are seeing most – if not all – patients in person. With this in mind, physicians need to be open to working on-site at hospitals and clinics if they want locums work in 2023.

Fair and balanced wages

The pandemic put such a strain on the healthcare workforce, there was a critical shortage of physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals to meet patient demand. This workforce shortage placed hospitals in stiff competition with one another to hire enough healthcare providers.

This sharp increase in demand inflated “pandemic pay” rates for physicians and nurses to a level that, over time, became impossible for hospitals to sustain. The healthcare industry has begun to self-correct, bringing contract physician pay back to a more balanced and fair hourly wage.  

At Covelo Direct, we still ensure that our locum tenens physicians are paid what they are worth. They enjoy generous hourly pay and compensation for lodging and travel when warranted.

We also understand that gauging hospitals when they are understaffed can leave a bad impression and encourage them to look elsewhere for locum tenens talent. Covelo Direct would rather prioritize long-lasting relationships with our clients, which will result in future opportunities for our physicians.

Underserved communities

Rural communities are historically underserved by healthcare providers, including physicians and nurse practitioners. Specialists are even harder to come by for hospitals in small, remote towns.

Often physicians come to us with specific locations in mind, such as a major hospital system in a large city. Since some of our clients are located in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco, we can sometimes accommodate those requests.

However, often the greatest demand comes from the lesser-known cities with lower populations. If you’re a locum tenens doctor who is hungry for work, your flexibility and willingness to travel to a rural community is key. While this trend may not be recent, it will persist into 2023 and beyond.

Partner with Covelo Direct

Remember that Covelo Direct provides concierge-level support to our locum tenens physicians. Your senior recruiter is standing by to answer questions and resolve concerns throughout each assignment. Open communication in this partnership will help ensure you’re placed in positions that are a good fit for your professional goals.

Click here to schedule an introductory phone call with a Covelo Direct senior recruiter.