Tag Archives: Physician Shortage

The New Urgency in Emergency Medicine

Why we must prioritize the well-being of emergency medicine providers 

Emergency care clinics and emergency rooms look quite different today when compared to just a year ago. While there’s long been a shortage of emergency medicine doctors and nurses across the U.S., and particularly in rural areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, significantly stressing an already overburden system.

Today, as emergency medicine responds to the new environment, healthcare is finding ways to take care of another wave of patients — namely the providers themselves.

Stressing the System

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that emergency department visits are down nationally by 42% because of patient COVID-19 fears, there remains an overall shortage of emergency medicine providers – and the gap is growing. By 2033, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortfall of at least 139,000, a majority of which will be at hospitals and facilities located in rural areas. While retirement is the impetus for declining numbers, the system is being stretched even thinner by the pandemic.

As emergency rooms and clinics ramp up testing and treatment for COVID-19 patients, a growing number emergency medicine providers are leaving their positions because of burnout, depression, and mental health-related issues. Disappearing Doctors, a coalition started by FCB Health New York, estimates that three out of four doctors meet the criteria for burnout. And this year alone, 400 physicians are projected to succumb to suicide.

Source of the Struggle

According to this April 2020 article in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, physicians are battling emotional fatigue and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues such as:

  • A lack of resources, including personal protective equipment, ventilators, and beds
  • Increased number of patients
  • Inability to socialize to blow off steam
  • Pressure to make critical decisions
  • Increased personal risk
  • Longer work hours
  • Self-isolation from family and friends; loneliness

Making a Provider-Centric Move

In response to the skyrocketing number of emergency medical providers struggling with mental health issues, the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and many others issued a joint statement explaining the importance of prioritizing provider mental health and creating an environment where struggling doctors can feel empowered to seek help without fear of losing credentials. This need is exactly why Disappearing Doctors was created. The website offers a highly responsive community where doctors can share experiences, discuss issues, and seek assistance.

When a doctor needs a break, facilities can turn to locum tenens providers to ensure the continuation of patient care. With locum tenens, facilities can properly manage their staffing needs, supporting permanent providers with the peace of mind that they aren’t abandoning their responsibilities. Locum providers benefit too, not only from the satisfaction of helping where needed, but from flexible schedules, a work-life balance they can control, and gaining valuable experience working with different colleagues and settings.

“Locum tenens providers can step in as needed, fill staffing gaps, and help ease the stress and burden physicians may feel,” explained Christian Hall, Regional Vice President of Consilium Staffing. “Locums providers offer a flexible schedule and can be on site for a day, week, month – whatever is needed. They’re available across all specialties and are ready to work immediately.”

As the pandemic continues, the importance of giving providers grace and support has never been more critical. Taking care of the caregiver is a necessity – and the only way to ensure we can triumph over COVID-19.

Learn more about how Consilium supports emergency medicine providers

Locum Providers Solve Holiday Staffing Shortages

Whether you’re a provider looking for seasonal career opportunities, or an administrator searching for a timely staffing solution, locum tenens continues to be a popular choice during the holidays.

At the heart of locum tenens is efficiency. As the holiday season approaches, locum tenens providers and the facilities that book them benefit from the flexible nature of the profession — as do the patients and communities they serve.

Facilities: Locums Brings Efficiencies 

In the last year, 90% of healthcare facilities have used a locum professional, and the trend shows no sign of stopping.

The most advantageous benefit for having locum providers is the ability for a facility to adjust its staff at a moment’s notice. This is because vetted locum providers are ready and able to step in with very little lead time, making short-term decisioning possible.

“The holidays are a crazy time for everyone especially when you are scrambling to find a healthcare provider to fill in for last minute holiday coverage,” explains Brent Burrows, Divisional Vice President and Partner, Consilium Staffing. “We’ve been very successful in securing holiday coverage for our clients to ensure their patients and communities aren’t left underserved. During the 4th quarter of 2019 Consilium Staffing saw a 23% increase in days booked for locum providers over the same time period in 2018.”

Overall, staffing efficiencies save resources by reducing redundancy, or in the case of a shortage, relieve overburdened on-staff providers. Locum providers are regularly the go-to solution for staffing gaps, and provide management with valuable expertise when permanent staff takes off for holiday vacations or personal time.

Providers: Why Locums Is the First Choice 

For providers looking for extra income, locums assignments can be a lucrative way to go. Data shows that many locum providers can make up to 50% more than permanent providers, which can be invaluable to those working to pay off student loans and medical school debt.

The flexibility locums providers enjoy refers to more than just picking when to work – it also includes where to work. Locum providers have the choice to work in a variety of practice settings, from an urban ER to a rural clinic. And depending on the assignment, locum providers may also be able to experience an array of different specialties, giving them access to new and different colleagues, patient groups, and knowledge sharing.

Providers also choose a career in locums because there are significantly fewer administrative burdens. Most required paperwork is handled by the employer, and each assignment comes with defined roles, pay, and expectations. This clarity helps the locum provider do the job with precision so they can meet expected outcomes.

Tip: Get Started Now 

Locum providers and assignments will be popular over the holidays, which is why Burrows advises getting started now. “Many healthcare providers are actively looking to work additional time over the holidays,” he says, “and they often book well in advance.”

A people-centric healthcare staffing firm like Consilium Staffing can help you get the licensing and credentialing processes moving, and set you on the path for true success with locum tenens.

Contact Consilium today for more information about locum tenens placements.

How Locum Tenens Bridges the Mental Health Care Gap

Listen to Amy Gentile’s interview

As the nationwide physician shortage increases, coupled with growing public awareness of available mental health services, medical facilities across the country struggle to maintain enough psychiatrists to provide timely care for all prospective patients. For many patients, this often means waiting months for appointments—or even going completely without mental health care—due to a complete lack of nearby psychiatrists who will accept new patients. As part of our mission to increase access to mental health care across the country, Consilium’s behavioral health division connects these understaffed mental health facilities with quality psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

FACT: Nearly one in five American adults will experience mental illness in any given year, yet only 40% receive treatment for that illness. [1,2]

To commemorate Mental Health Month, we spoke with Amy Gentile—partner and regional vice president of Consilium’s behavioral health division—about her experience in social work and the importance of providing accessible mental health services.

Talk a little bit about how you came to be so passionate about your work in behavioral health.

My schooling was in social work and I did all my work in drug and alcohol treatment centers. I did a lot of work in mental health as I worked alongside a psychiatrist. A lot of the drug and alcohol patients that were in the treatment centers also had dual diagnoses where they also had mental health illnesses. I got to work with those patients firsthand and see how important it was that they had their medications, therapy, and access to psychiatrists. Not to mention that I have some personal experience with family members who have dealt with mental illness, primarily depression. I’ve seen how important it is that they also had access to psychiatrists and medication.

FACT: Nearly 8 million adults in the United States have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.[2]

When the opportunity arose for me to work in behavioral health in the locums industry, I thought it was a perfect fit for me because not only did I understand psychiatry—and the buzzwords and everything else—I was also just very passionate about making sure patients had mental health care. I know how important it is, professionally and personally.

How does Consilium fit into your mission to improve access to mental health services?

Just the idea that we have the opportunity to affect patient lives every single day. It’s the fact that with every phone call that I make, I have the opportunity to put a doctor into a facility. One more patient could be seen because I made a phone call, because someone gave us the opportunity to work on a job for them when they’re short-staffed for one reason or another. We’re affecting patient lives. We could be saving somebody’s life because we put a doctor in there—that’s huge to me.

FACT: 90% of those who die by suicide have symptoms of an underlying mental illness.[3]

The fact of the matter is that without locum tenens, a lot of patients wouldn’t be seen. They can go for months on waiting lists. I talk to facilities all the time that have one-, two-, three-month waiting lists for these patients. They’re backed up even to do evaluations and see what medications these people need to be on. What if they don’t get their medications—what’s next for them? Are they going to end up on the streets, are they going to end up in jail, are they going to end up worse? It can be a really sad situation. There’s a real need for doctors to be able to get in there and see these patients on a locums basis. Facilities can only go so long without coverage. They need to have coverage, period.

FACT: An estimated 50-75% of adolescents in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental illness.[4]

So even though you’re out of the social work field, you’re able to make an impact in an area that’s very important to you.

Absolutely. It’s near and dear to my heart for a lot of reasons that I mentioned. Even when counseling, just having a parent thank you for helping their child when they feel like you made a difference in their kid’s life. They feel like they’re connecting with their child again because their child is making an effort not to drink or take drugs, they’re getting help on the mental health side, they’re taking their medication—they’re doing what they’re supposed to do in all aspects. They’re going to their AA meetings and they’re seeing their psychiatrist and they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing; that’s a big deal.

FACT: 37% of students ages 14+ who have a mental health condition will drop out of school.[5]

On the professional side, when you have a client who is just so elated with their psychiatrist—especially when they went for quite a while without one and they needed one badly— and they’re so happy with the one you put in there for months and months and months… They’re just so grateful and appreciative, and it makes you feel good. It makes you feel good that our team did such a good job to get somebody in there because they’re so happy and you know that their patients are being seen. It makes you feel good that we worked as a team and got someone in there for them.

FACT: Consilium puts mental health professionals in positions to save lives.

Interested in providing mental health care with one of our clients or in finding psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners to see patients at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696 or fill out our convenient online form.

 

Sources

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  3. American Psychological Association. Teen Suicide is Preventable.
  4. Underwood, L., & Washington, A. (2016). Mental Illness and Juvenile Offenders. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(2), 228.
  5. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Health Facts: Children and Teens.

Proposed Bill Aimed at Easing Physician Shortage

 

For some time now we have heard about the current physician shortage and the impending acceleration of that shortage with the implementation of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The PPACA is a House bill introduced by Representative Arron Schock (R-Ill.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA.), intended to increase the number of residency positions by 15,000 over a five-year period.

 

In a recent article, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) quoted AAMC president and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, saying, “We have been expressing concern for some time about the inadequate number of doctor training positions because of federal caps imposed in in 1997.”

 

Dr. Krich was referring, in part, to the cap on federally supported residency training programs that was implemented 15 years ago. The limit on the number of training programs resulted in a limit to the number of residency slots available for medical school graduates. The aftermath is a limit to the number of U.S. residency-trained physicians entering the work force; a problem that is exacerbated by an ageing population, more physicians retiring, and more patients with increasing medical issues. Take these factors and add a need for several thousand additional physicians, plus the PPACA, and you have yourself a massive physician shortage.

 

While the proposed bill will certainly not flood the healthcare market with thousands of new physicians overnight, it is a step in the right direction toward addressing the shortage, which the AAMC projects could result in a physician deficit as large as 90,000 by 2020. The proposed bill, known as the “Training Tomorrow’s Doctor’s Today Act” would add 15,000 new residency positions over five years, which once up and running, would result in a large continuous flow of new physicians into the healthcare system.

 

Matt Baade  - Executive Vice President/Partner