It is with a heavy heart that Interim Physicians announces the death of Dr. Ken Teufel, one of the founders of the locum tenens staffing industry, on November 12, 2021.
Dr. Ken, as we affectionately called him, was much more than our Medical Director and faithful author of “Dr. Ken’s Corner" for more than 10 years. In the late 1970s, he created a staffing company called Physicians Relief Network (PRN) that, along with Harris, Kovacs, Alderman (HKA), would evolve into the present-day incarnation of Interim Physicians.
“First and foremost, Dr. Teufel was a true gentleman. Choosing medicine was a wise career path for Ken, because his bedside manner was second to none," said Tim Hand, Chief Executive Officer of Interim Physicians.
“Ken formed his company, Physician Relief Network (PRN), in the early ’70s, as a much-needed service to overworked primary care physicians in remote areas across the country who were essentially always 'on-call.' Little did he know that he would be at the forefront of what has since become a multibillion-dollar industry, employing thousands of people, providing healthcare where none may exist at all."
Serving patients was his lifelong goal. Dr. Teufel graduated from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1970. There, he received the Gold-Headed Cane Award. After interning at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, he completed his family practice residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. During the 70s, Dr. Ken practiced obstetrics and pediatrics in the small town of New Braunfels, TX.
Quickly, he felt the physical and emotional toll of working weekends with limited vacation time, and he noticed that many other colleagues experienced the same 24/7 demand, especially in rural areas. This sparked an idea: physicians who could cover for other solo practitioners. In 1978, Dr. Ken sold his practice, and in the early 1980s, he founded Physicians Relief Network (PRN), one of America’s pioneer locum tenens organizations.
Over the years, PRN encountered different owners, and name changes before it became the Interim Physicians we know today. But there was one constant through it all: Dr. Ken Teufel at the helm as Medical Director.
“Ken was a dedicated caregiver who articulated our mission like no one else could. He will be sorely missed by anyone whose lives he touched,” Hand added.
Dr. Ken was also an adjunct faculty member at Texas State University. There, he designed and taught the school’s inaugural course in health communication and served as a longtime member of the communication studies advisory council, where he held the title of member emeritus. Dr. Teufel was passionate about advancing the diffusion of health innovations and worked in resource-poor settings in rural Appalachia, Thailand, and Laos.
Today, Interim Physicians is one of the nation’s leading locum tenens organizations, staffing quality physicians and delivering healthcare where there otherwise could be none. And we owe it all to Dr. Ken.
Thank you, Dr. Ken, for your invaluable contributions to medicine and for being a true pioneer in the locum tenens space. You will be missed, but your memory lives on in our mission and in the hearts of many.