As the summer season approaches, many healthcare organizations will face challenges covering the gaps left by vacationing staff. A perfect storm of demands will create more pressure than ever on what is already an overstretched talent supply.  

First, demand for well-deserved time off will be high following two turbulent pandemic years and newly re-opened travel possibilities. Second is the talent squeeze. In many specialty fields, there is a shortage of providers with an abundance of job opportunities. Finally, patient activity is high as organizations chip away at a backlog of appointments that were put on hold during the pandemic.  

Successful hospitals, physician groups, surgical centers, and other healthcare facilities are adapting their strategies to make non-permanent workers an integral part of year-round operations. Healthcare leaders face few options with constrained resources and little breathing room in schedules. As a result, relying on existing staff to extend their work schedules and cover the vacation gaps this summer may lead to extreme burnout and attrition. 

Get a Jump on the Challenging Season Ahead 

These factors point to one urgent message: plan now while uncommitted flexible workers are still available. With that in mind, what follows are three priorities that underpin an effective locum tenens plan. These issues go beyond simply filling scheduling gaps and speak more to helping healthcare leaders achieve lasting operational outcomes. 

1. Get Proactive to Weather a High-Demand Season

In today’s talent market, procrastination is risky, but planning early to cover summer vacancies also has its challenges.  

Many employees’ summer schedules are not planned yet. Therefore, the most effective approach will require a two-part effort. First, communicate the benefits of early vacation planning to current staff and encourage them to finalize the time off they will need. Then, identify a staffing partner that can work with you to gain early access to locum tenens talent and bring in some level of commitment to ensure the coverage required is secured. In the hands of a great locum tenens partner, an early schedule of upcoming vacations and a general expectation for possible additional needs can go a long way toward meeting your demands.  

2. Access Specialized Networks to Secure the Right Talent

Years ago, many organizations could quickly find temporary talent to cover summer scheduling gaps. However, since then, the supply and demand gap has widened, and the high-demand season will likely create staffing shortages for healthcare organizations.  

To achieve the most reliable result, it is essential to identify a staffing partner with an extensive network of providers. A quality locum tenens partner has the reach and specialization to connect with a large talent pool through multiple recruitment channels. This results in more candidate options and allows the facility to bring in the best resource possible while simultaneously adapting to new schedule demands as they arise.  

3. Boost Year-Round Coverage for a Constrained Workforce

When planning for summer locum tenens needs, it is crucial to look beyond just filling vacation days. Instead, use the advantages of early planning and access to temporary talent as a way to boost responsiveness to coverage needs throughout the year for long-term operational efficiency.  

As many organizations and businesses in healthcare and other industries have found, the workforce is growing more flexible. This means many skilled physicians and advanced practice providers are embracing locum tenens work over traditional permanent roles. Successful healthcare organizations are adapting their strategies to make non-permanent workers an integral part of year-round operations. This flexibility doesn’t just include high-volume, lower-skilled roles but also more senior physicians and advanced practitioners.   

A Boost for Your Staff, Your Organization, and the People You Serve 

What’s suitable for people is good for business. In the case of any practice or healthcare organization, a sound locum tenens coverage plan will provide a much-needed show of support for current staff. With a plan in place, people can take their own time off with less anxiety and expect less pressure to cover for their coworkers. The result is a valuable bit of comfort for a workforce that may have experienced a roller coaster of low demand followed by a wave of sudden patient needs and appointments. Now is the time to provide some stability, and your locum tenens plan for this summer is an excellent place to start.