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    A new year means a fresh start and a chance to refocus on objectives. In recent times, the healthcare industry—and vicariously, the locum tenens industry—has dealt with several challenges, from a rocky economy to deepening personnel shortages to reform indecision.

    Still, that is not to say nothing has changed or that the future will remain status quo. To generate a dialogue about where the industry is headed, LocumLife invited a few staffing company executives to participate in a special Q&A session. Read on as these representatives weigh in on how the locum tenens marketplace has weathered the economic downturn and the issues grabbing their attention.


    Brent Bormaster
    BRENT BORMASTER, Divisional Vice President of Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare company located in Irving, Texas

    Mark Law
    MARK LAW, Group President of Salt Lake City, Utah-based CHG Healthcare Services

    Edward McEachern
    EDWARD McEACHERN, Vice President of Marketing for Jackson & Coker Locum Tenens, Jackson & Coker Permanent Placement, and MD Search, with corporate headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga.

    Sean Suttles
    SEAN SUTTLES, Director of Sales, D&Y, based in Huntsville, Ala.

    Q. For the past 3 years, the economy has been rather unpredictable. What effect has that had on the locum tenens industry, and how do things stand today?

    Brent Bormaster During the height of the economic crisis, every industry looked at how to save costs. For example, hospital staff was asked to do more with less. For some locum tenens physicians, this may have meant facilities cut back on their overtime or on-call hours. However, today we are seeing signs that things are leveling out.

    Sean Suttles The demand is there and we do not see it changing for the short-term. More facilities see locum tenens as a viable part of how to meet day-to-day operational demands. In the past, there may have been some reluctance. Now more hospitals and private practices are willing to contract with locum tenens physicians instead of further stressing their staff.

    Q. Are there certain specialties in high demand right now? If so, what are the contributing factors?

    Mark Law The primary care specialties have the deepest shortage. Therefore, we see an increase in requests for these physicians.

    Bormaster According to Staffing Industry Analysts' recent NALTO Benchmarking Survey, hospitalists represent 17 percent of the locum tenens market share and emergency medicine represents 14 percent. Interestingly, both specialties are shift work, meaning patients do not expect to see a doctor who is familiar with their personal health histories. So I think the nature of these specialties makes them more conducive to locum tenens.

    Q. Do rural areas still present the greatest need for locum tenens services? How might that change in the foreseeable future?

    Suttles Many facilities and private practices in rural regions seem to experience difficulty recruiting permanent staff. Such issues keep supplemental staffing demand high, and I do not know how much that will change.

    Edward McEachern There will always be distribution issues. Traditionally, unlike small towns, metropolitan areas have always had large local talent pools.