The underlying problem of “burnout” of health personnel, more pronounced in doctors, can affect the quality of medical care, the experience that the patient has in the health center, health institutions (clinics and hospitals), and of course doctors directly.
According to a study carried out on the stress to which healthcare personnel are subjected, Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives, directed by Merritt Hawkins at the request of The Physicians Foundation, 80% of doctors are overloaded, being at the limit of their capacity for extra work, 63% have a pessimistic view of their future workload, and 49% would not recommend a medical career to other people.
A solution to reduce the stress of staff doctors is the strategic use of locum tenens companies and medical outsourcing companies that can help reinforce medical personnel in periods where specific support is needed, such as winter campaigns, summer periods, or in case of unplanned contingencies.
For younger doctors, recently graduated or on a scholarship period, working in locum tenens providing services to help cover the shifts required by hospitals and clinics is a way to increase their income and to work in a dynamic and flexible way.
Likewise, a greater number of personnel willing to work sporadically, covering the available shifts, would be a good antidote to burnout experienced by many doctors and other healthcare workers. Alleviating the pressure will also go some way to countering the currently high turnover of health personnel.
The Way Forward
According to a study recently published by Medscape, National Physician Burnout & Depression Report, the highest rates of stress are reported in older doctors, 45 to 55 years of age, and the main causes are excessive bureaucracy at work (56%), workdays that are too long (39%), low pay (24%), and other causes including lack of respect from management and colleagues, lack of autonomy, and the feeling that they are in a never-ending spiral.
The future projection is not very promising, according to a study by the consulting firm Medwave. They estimate that there could be a large shortfall of doctors by 2030, which is in line with the world trend since in the United States the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that by 2025 there will be a gap of 90,400 doctors.
Promoting the hiring of medical service providers to cover the gap of doctors in critical areas can be a solution for medical centers since they allow their permanent staff not to be subjected to such long working hours, to be able to take vacations, to work focused in patients and provide higher quality care, and undoubtedly all this will reduce the stress of the medical staff and will retain the best doctors in their medical centers.
Locum tenens companies can play their part by focusing on where future requirements for doctors will be concentrated. It is likely that a more flexible approach to recruiting and placing medical staff will be required to redress the predicted shortage, so patient care does not suffer too much.