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One Solution to Short-Staffed Medical Practices


Being short-staffed can cripple a medical practice. That's why having emergency staffing plans in place is a must.

The key to avoiding practice turnover and retaining today's medical providers is to focus on their overall job satisfaction from day one. Keeping a pulse on the health and well-being of your staff to look for early signs of burnout, and paying close attention to the concerns of their loved ones outside your practice are vital.

Top Reasons for Turnover

A poor cultural and community fit are consistently reported as the top reasons for turnover (72 percent). Moving to be closer to family members or due to a spouse’s job relocation ranked second (50 percent) in the same study. The rate of turnover is highest among new providers in their earliest years of employment, reflecting the challenges that practices face in vetting these issues beginning with the recruitment process.

The most recent surveys of physicians also point to the increasing bureaucracy of administrative duties, EHR demands, and quality reporting requirements as reasons for high job dissatisfaction. According to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors report that for every hour spent with patients, they now spend two more hours completing administrative tasks related to their visit.

Under Pressure

The results are not only costly to the practice, but felt by the remaining staff asked to carry an even heavier load. This fact is evident in this year's Physicians Practice Staff Salary Survey, where practices reported that their number one staffing challenge in 2017 is an increased workload and employees performing dual responsibilities (44.9 percent).

What Does This Equate to?

Our inability to ease the pressure that starts the cycle of turnover, causing even more stress upon a staff in a state of flux, has resulted in an alarming spike in burnout among physicians. Several recent studies indicate physician burnout is on the rise for many of the reasons previously cited.

Avoiding Crisis

The healthcare staffing industry’s role in helping practice managers avoid this crisis is by offering qualified physicians and advanced practitioners in a contract capacity that eases the pressure on full-time staff. This is done by planning locum tenens coverage for a practice's peak times throughout the year, as a stopgap during a permanent search, and for both planned and unplanned absences of staff.

To begin finding a locum tenens provider, consider utilizing the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations®(NALTO®) to search for a reputable staffing firm that adheres to the industry-wide standards it sets for ethics and service.

Temporary providers have the ability to make an immediate impact because they're trained to approach new settings and quickly adapt to their environment. They're able to collaborate with permanent staff and offer knowledge of system processes from their experiences at different healthcare facilities that may benefit a practice in ways previously not considered. Practice administrators who utilize locum tenens to offset being short-staffed are able to sustain satisfaction rates, while seeing more patients and meeting revenue goals.

Mike Gianas (Redemption Creative LLC) is a Dallas, Texas-based healthcare marketing consultant for the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations® (NALTO®), the official governing body of locum tenens staffing whose purpose is to provide industry standards, ethical guidelines, continuing education and a collective forum focused on meeting the needs for care at medical facilities nationwide. 

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