Medical Staffing Outlook for 2024

The demand for healthcare staffing remains high in 2024. An aging population with multiple chronic conditions, the medical workforce shortage and growing telehealth utilization require more providers. The growth of travel nursing trends over the past three years has helped, and in 2024, interest in locum tenens staffing is taking off.

The future looks good for locum tenens doctors and travel nurses to enhance patient care. Learn about the factors driving these healthcare positions and how these providers benefit the healthcare industry.

Locum tenens outlook

Locum tenens clinicians serve a critical role in today’s healthcare landscape in the United States. Locum tenens roles offer healthcare facilities greater staffing flexibility by temporarily filling needed positions.

Locum tenens clinicians substitute for physicians who are out on leave, in training or during times of high patient volumes. Locums fill needs in their local communities and/or in travel assignments as independent contractors.

Locum tenens positions expanded in 2023 by 12 percent. This role is projected to grow an additional 7 percent in 2024, according to a recent Staffing Industry Analysts report.

Travel nursing outlook

Travel nurses also take temporary roles for a contracted period. Like locum tenens, they fill gaps in high-demand situations and often travel around the country.

Over the past three years, travel nursing has been a focal point in medical staffing growth. Signs point to the travel nursing boom normalizing with job opportunities remaining consistent.

Factors influencing the medical staffing outlook

The increasing popularity of travel nursing and locum tenens is due to multiple factors, including:

Aging population

According to the Census Bureau, about 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the U.S. By 2060, the number of people age 65 plus will grow by 75 percent – from 54.1 million to almost 95 million. Additionally, medical care today allows people to live about 10 years longer than life expectancy in the 1950s.

As baby boomers exit the workforce, enter retirement and experience the ailments of older age, the demand for healthcare workers will continue to grow.

Medical workforce shortage

Several factors play into the current medical workforce shortage. The fallout from the rigor and demands on healthcare workers during and following the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt. As clinicians left the field, those left behind carried a greater burden. Systems have worked hard to ease the burden, but it remains difficult in some areas.

Provider burnout – Before the pandemic, the American Medical Association found that the rate of physician burnout was 38 percent. The rate increased to 63 percent in 2021 and fell to 53 percent in 2022 – still 15 percent above the rate before 2019.

The main reasons cited for burnout include inefficiencies in the healthcare sector, administrative burdens and increased regulation. As a result, more clinicians are cutting back their hours or leaving the profession entirely.

Projected labor shortage – With our quickly aging population, the U.S. needs more than a million more nurses by 2031, according to a report from McKinsey & Co. The projected medical workforce shortage will be exacerbated by many older physicians and nurses retiring as well.

This shortage increases opportunities for those seeking travel nursing or locum tenens positions. Healthcare organizations are hiring more temporary providers, making the medical staffing outlook positive for professionals on this career path.

Popularity of telehealth

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth to access medical care skyrocketed from about 911,000 users in 2020 to more than 8.5 million in 2022. This utilization enabled providers to bill for care, prescribe medications and receive reimbursement through waivers.

This shift also enabled people in rural areas to access care. As a result, many organizations increased their telehealth providers, hiring locum tenens clinicians to fill the roles.

Growth in telehealth remains a top trend in 2024. Healthcare facilities will likely look to locum tenens clinicians and other temporary staff to fill these roles.

Benefits of temporary provider roles

Stepping into a locum tenens role has many benefits. Clinicians can gain more control over their schedules. They can offer support to other clinicians who need to take leave while escaping the bureaucracy and administrative burdens that cause burnout. Locums physicians also gain valuable experience through diverse opportunities, earn competitive wages and have flexible schedules.

Likewise, travel nursing has many benefits as well. For those who love to travel, short-term assignments to new places and working with new people can be exciting. The opportunity to help communities in need is rewarding and satisfying. Pay is competitive and opportunities vary.

What to know more about what the future of medical staffing for nurse travelers? Read this article: The State of Travel Nursing.

Healthcare professionals choose TinkBird for staffing assignments

The medical staffing agency you choose to work for as a locum tenens clinician or travel nurse matters. TinkBird places high value on our providers. Our support and benefits packages prove our commitment.

Benefits you can expect from working with TinkBird include:

  • Quality short-term and long-term locum tenens and travel nursing positions across the nation
  • Freedom, flexibility and a variety of experiences
  • Growth opportunities and career advancement
  • Relief from bureaucracy and burnout
  • Travel adventures around the country
  • Highly competitive wages
  • A personalized relationship with a responsive TinkBird recruiter who focuses on supporting you and your workforce goals
  • An agency with two decades of experience in the industry
  • Professional liability coverage
  • And more!
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