It is a wonderful time to be a hospitalist. MGMA DataDive Provider Compensation reports that the median compensation for the 44,000 hospitalists working in 2016 was $278,471 annually. Hospitalists also saw an 18.78 percent increase in compensation since 2011, one of the highest increases in pay of all specialties. This trend will likely continue as the industry moves toward value-based payments because hospitalists have a proven ability to curtail hospital readmissions.
This meteoric rise in pay has a lot to do with skyrocketing demand. This demand is rooted in the amount of time and money a hospitalist can save a provider group. These hospital-based physicians oversee patients at the hospital, saving other physicians a time-consuming trip. Their specialized knowledge of in-patient care also optimizes resource application and improves patient outcomes. This ability to stretch hospital resources and shorten patient stays has made hospitalists highly prized among hospitals and physician practices.
The staffing industry has also noticed the sharp uptick in demand for hospitalists. In 2014, almost 22 percent of locum tenens placements involved hospitalists. This makes this specialty the third most popular, behind only primary care physicians and behavioral health specialists. Consequently, the compensation for hospitalists on locum tenens assignments are among the most lucrative.
The intense demand for hospitalists has been a boon for those specialists who choose locum tenens assignments either full or part time. For many, the need for hospitalists across the nation has enabled hospitalists to leave behind the stress of a permanent position for the ability to travel and experience a diversity of clinical settings. Many entering medical professionals have also found the ability to “try on” a position and build a network of professional contacts highly satisfying.
Finally, many hospitalists find that locum tenens assignments allow them to enjoy the practice of medicine once again. Instead of focusing on paperwork, physicians can prioritize patient care in a way that is highly valued by the patient and personally gratifying for the clinician. Other hospitalists, of course, also find that the ability to improve an organization’s efficiency and care delivery to be one of the most satisfying elements of these locum tenens placements.
While the benefits almost always outweigh the disadvantages, you should also keep in mind that some assignments may be more challenging than others. For example, some organizations may require an irregular work schedule for hospitalists. The most traditional schedule is four standard work weeks and one weekend a month, but others use a seven days on (with 12 hour work days) and seven days off schedule. Usually, your staffing agency can hammer out these details according to your preferences.
Also there may be some adjustments in working with a new team of providers. As the manager for the patient care team, you will be expected to understand organizational processes and optimize inefficiencies in a short period of time.
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