PA/NP Workforce

Written by on February 28, 2014 in Features - No comments

Using Locums to Meet Your Practice Demand

Redesigning teams to include increased numbers of primary care providers, not just physicians but also PAs and NPs, is a significant part of the solution to alleviate the well-known shortage in primary care. Improving utilization of Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) will be an integral part of the primary care delivery solution.  Often, the addition of a PA/NP to a medical practice offers enhanced patient satisfaction, improved physician work-life balance, improved revenues and greater access to care for patients.

Suburban, rural and smaller practices all complain that they cannot recruit to their area because they cannot pay as much in salary as their competition.  However, often these groups are missing the mark as they often qualify for loan repayment within the state, or they might offer flexibility within a clinical work schedule that is appreciated by the provider.  Staffing with a temporary PA or NP may alleviate an immediate need within a practice such as a maternity leave or high visit demand in flu season.

Staffing agencies provide PAs and NPs with the flexibility to work in the state they want, when they want. For example, if a PA/NP has family in California, they can travel there on an assignment in the summer and catch wine country while there. If one likes to ski, they can take an assignment in Park City, Utah and catch some of the best powder in the U.S.A.  Unlike PA/NPs that are hired into traditional full-time positions, traveling PA/NPs have the flexibility and leeway to travel and see the country.

A great benefit of working as a traveling PA or NP is the opportunity to learn and practice new specialties. If a PA/NP has always worked in primary care but wanted to try orthopedics or dermatology, they would be able to practice in both settings working as a traveler. By working with a staffing agency, one is able to get placed on various locums assignments and practice a variety of clinical skills. This is a great way to use and apply the generalist experience of PA/NP training while test-driving a potential new direction for one’s clinical career. Benefits to employers include dedicated, hardworking and often-experienced providers.  Consideration of locums work is also a great transition for those PAs and NPs with many years of clinical experience that are not yet ready for full retirement.

PAs and NPs often use locums to supplement their income. Many times, life can get chaotic and unexpected financial expenditures will arise. Kids’ orthodontics work, college loans, new car payments – these are unavoidable issues that can put a burden on one’s budget. By taking paid vacation on their regular job and working as a locum during vacation, PA and NPs may achieve additional income and pay off some of life’s big expenses faster. Locum assignments vary from a few days to a few months and there is often a selection of choices right in one’s home state or city.

Practices benefit by using locums providers to help meet access to care demands and provide patients with increased provider availability.  The compelling and exciting reasons to travel as a PA/NP may offer clinical and financial flexibility unmatched in traditional job markets. Ultimately, locums staffing can be a win/win for both providers and employers.

By Lisa P. Shock, MHS, PA-C
President/CEO Utilization Solutions in Healthcare, Inc.

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