The distribution of healthcare providers across the United States has been historically unresponsive to the needs of the population. At present, there are 6,000 federally designated areas with a shortage of primary care providers, and rural areas have about 68 primary care providers per 100,000 people compared with 84 in metro areas. Unfortunately, about 20% of Americans live in these rural areas but only 10% of healthcare providers practice there.
One increasingly important solution to enhancing coverage in these rural areas is temporary provider staffing also called locum tenens. Translated from Latin, locum tenens literally means, “holding one’s place.” Locum nurse practitioners and physicians practice in hospitals and clinics across rural America. But who are these important providers, and what motivates them to fill this much needed gap in care?
A study published by Simon and Alonzo in the Journal of Healthcare Management surveyed over 1,600 locum providers to find out. The survey consisted of 50 questions, and approximately 47% of those surveyed responded. The survey covered two general topic areas: demographic variables and professional variables.
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