In the Interim | NP is 2024’s Best Healthcare Job, Docs’ Unused Vacations Fuel Burnout, Erasing Medical Debt & More News

“In the Interim” is a snapshot of the latest and most relevant news in the locum tenens industry. No repeats, less scrolling, more knowledge. Check out the articles we found most interesting for January’s roundup.   

1. 20% of Physicians Take Less Than 1 Week of Vacation a Year

Approximately 20% of physicians took less than a week of vacation in the past year, with 70% working on their days off to handle patient-related tasks, according to a report by Medscape based on a study published in JAMA Network Open. Burnout was found to be more likely among physicians who worked during their time off, indicating issues with inadequate staffing, suboptimal teamwork, and poorly designed coverage systems. The study, which received 3,024 physician responses, revealed that physicians experience more burnout than any other American workers. The report suggests that simply allocating vacation days is insufficient, emphasizing the need to address systemic challenges in healthcare settings.

(Becker’s Hospital Review, Jan. 16, 2024)

2. Nurse Practitioner Ranked as the Best Healthcare Job in 2024

US News & World Report has released its ranking of the top 26 jobs in the healthcare industry, highlighting high-paying roles with significant growth potential. Nurse practitioners secured the top spot, not only as the best job in healthcare but also as the No. 1 job of 2024. With a high median salary and expected “explosive growth” over the next decade, nurse practitioners are projected to add 118,600 jobs between 2022 and 2032, a 45% growth rate. The list includes various healthcare positions and their respective median salaries, offering insight into promising career options in the healthcare sector.

(Becker’s Hospital Review, Jan. 9, 2024) 

3. Rural Wyoming Is Losing OBs. Those Who Remain Are Spread Thin.

The article delves into the declining state of obstetric services in rural Wyoming, using one doctor’s decision to stop practicing obstetrics as a focal point. Rural obstetricians face burnout, increased workload, and challenges in providing comprehensive care due to facility closures, financial constraints, and restrictive laws. The shortage not only impacts medical professionals but also puts the community’s pregnant patients at risk because they need to travel to receive maternity care. The broader implications of this obstetric crisis in Wyoming and other rural counties in the US underscores the urgency for solutions. The full article explores the multifaceted factors contributing to the decline and the potential consequences for both providers and communities.

(The Daily Yonder, Jan. 08, 2024) 

4. Erasing Medical School Debt Proposed to Lure Doctors to Rural South Carolina

South Carolina faces a shortage of doctors in rural areas, prompting a proposed bill to reimburse up to $30,000 in medical professionals’ student loan payments if they commit to working in rural areas or with underserved urban patients. This measure aims to address financial barriers and attract healthcare professionals to areas facing healthcare gaps. The hope is to shed light on rural healthcare and generate momentum for the bill. Challenges include financial constraints, difficulty in finding staff, and lifestyle preferences of new graduates. 

(Index Journal, Jan. 16, 2024) 

5. Hawaii’s Doctor Shortage is Improving, but the Issue Remains Critical 

Hawaii continues to grapple with a doctor shortage. The University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine reports a need for at least 750 more physicians statewide. While urban areas like Oahu have seen a slight improvement, rural areas are experiencing worsening shortages, with neighboring islands such as Maui facing up to a 43% deficit. A new loan repayment program to attract and retain doctors could help, although challenges persist due to the expensive nature of medical care in the Hawaiian Islands. Legislative action may be taken to address the issue in the upcoming 2024 session.

(Island News, Jan. 04, 2024) 

6. 13 Health Systems Collaborate with High Schools in $250M Initiative to Boost Healthcare Workforce 

Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching a $250 million initiative in collaboration with major health systems like Mass General Brigham and Northwell Health to address the long-term labor shortage in the US healthcare system. The initiative will partner with public school systems in 10 urban and rural communities, establishing or refurbishing high schools to offer a combination of traditional academic programming and specialized healthcare classes. The health systems will co-develop the curriculum, and graduates will be hired directly into healthcare roles with family-sustaining wages. The initiative aims to train and recruit the next generation of healthcare workers, providing opportunities for work-based learning experiences, certifications, and college credits. The schools, set to open between 2024 and 2026, will have the capacity to serve almost 6,000 students. Successful programs developed through the initiative could serve as a scalable solution to address the healthcare industry’s labor challenges.

(Fierce Healthcare, Jan 17, 2024) 

7. NIH Entity Seeks Proposals for Advanced Mobile Hospital 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) aims to address rural healthcare disparities by creating a scalable mobile-care delivery platform called PARADIGM. This initiative envisions rugged electric vehicles equipped with advanced medical devices to offer early detection and management of diseases in rural areas. The platform includes innovations in point-of-care diagnostics, seamless data exchange, and real-time guidance for medical tasks. ARPA-H plans to enable rural healthcare workers to perform advanced functions beyond their usual training. Health systems will test these platforms nationwide to assess clinical efficacy and financial sustainability, with PARADIGM expected to revolutionize access to advanced hospital-level care, akin to the impact of telehealth on primary care and mental health services.

(HealthcareITNews, Jan.18, 2024) 

That’s it for this month’s edition of In the Interim! Stay tuned for next month’s roundup of newsworthy articles for locum tenens providers. To stay in the loop on future news, follow us on LinkedIn.