Locum tenens NPs and PAs are an often under-utilized resource, but that may soon change with the rising effects of the physician shortage in the US. This shortage will consist of approximately 61,700 to 94,700 empty physician roles over the next decade according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). How will healthcare facilities support an aging population and growing patient caseloads in the face of this deficit?
One answer could be utilizing locum tenens advanced practice clinicians to supplement the healthcare workforce. There are many highly qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants poised to fill the gap and ensure that patients continue to receive the care they need in the face of the shortage.
Collaboration in Care
Locum tenens advanced practice clinicians are an excellent resource for easing the burden on physicians in a wide variety of facilities. They are highly capable of helping treat patients through primary care services, thereby reducing patient wait times. This can in turn help maintain higher levels of patient satisfaction and ensure that people receive the care they need when they need it, avoiding costlier complications and sparing patients the suffering those complications would bring.
In fact, studies have shown that advanced practice clinicians such as nurse practitioners received comparable or higher patient satisfaction ratings while providing similar patient care in primary care settings. Collaboration between physicians and advanced practice clinicians can thereby allow more patients to be seen with similar outcomes as well as better patient wait times.
Another important way that locum tenens NPs and PAs can make an impact in the face of the physician shortage is through cost savings. Rather than losing patients and revenue due to not having a physician readily available on staff, facilities can employ locum tenens advanced practice clinicians such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants to ensure that patients are seen. This can all be done while maintaining quality care standards, which is especially helpful for facilities that are struggling to fill physician roles.
Employing locum tenens advanced practice clinicians may be more cost effective than hiring a full time physician for some facilities, depending on their specific needs. For these facilities, such as smaller hospitals in less affluent areas, this can be crucial to the bottom line. Employing locum tenens NPs and PAs may be the best choice for the time being to ensure that patients receive cost efficient care.
Advanced Practice Clinicians Are Trusted
In the face of the physician shortage, it’s important to implement a solution that patients can trust. Locum tenens advanced practice clinicians are a logical answer because patients already trust these practitioners.
How did this come about? Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are often able to spend more time with patients. These interactions allow the patient to feel more comfortable talking about their history, asking questions, and fully understanding their treatment plans before leaving.
This element of trust results in patients being more likely to follow through on those treatment plans, take their prescribed medications, and return for follow-up visits. This in turn lowers costs when patients are able to avoid preventable complications or readmission through diligent care. Once again, all of these factors lead to increased patient satisfaction as well, which is ultimately good for a facility’s bottom line.
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