Despite the need for their services in the ongoing pandemic, a large proportion of physicians in the US are planning to take time off or outright quit, according to survey findings released this week by job board LocumTenens. LocumTenens provides placement services specifically for clinicians filling temporary roles.
According to the survey, which gathered responses from some 2,300 clinicians across the US, 63 percent have either taken time off from practising or are planning to do so in the next few months. Furthermore, 41 percent are planning to change jobs within the next year. The survey does not explore the overlap between the two groups, however.
Some possible reasons may be burnout and inadequate pay. The survey found that burnout rates among clinicians have gone up, with 39 percent of all respondents reporting increased stress and burnout because of the pandemic. Younger clinicians and women are particularly affected, and so are four particular specialisations - oncology, hospital medicine, critical care medicine, and emergency medicine. And at the same time, salaries for some have decreased due to either reduced hours or reduced pay. The exceptions were a handful of clinicians in critical care and hospitalist specialisations - 20 percent and 11 percent respectively - who received a pay increase due to the influx of COVID-19 patients.
Despite this looming shortage of clinicians, a large number remain unemployed. In the employment sphere, the survey revealed that not all clinicians are employed in hospitals. 14% percent of physicians and advanced practitioners are still jobless after being furloughed or laid off last year.
At the same time, the demand for certain specialisations has shot up. The survey showed that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children specifically and people in general, 47 percent% of child and adolescent psychiatrists are facing an increased extreme workload and the situation will continue to remain so.
"We are continuing to see healthcare organizations face staffing shortages, which will likely worsen in the coming months as more clinicians take time off from practicing or make career changes," said Chris Franklin, president of LocumTenens.com. "The pandemic highlighted gaps in existing employment strategies and gave some providers time to reconsider priorities. It's now more important than ever that we are prepared to support the healthcare workforce to ensure patients have access to care."