Locum tenens offers a unique opportunity for physicians to practice where they want, when they want. Some physicians prefer to travel to locations where there are opportunities to explore their hobbies like skiing or mountain biking, while others enjoy going to communities that need help the most. In many cases, locum tenens gives physicians the chance to do both. Here are seven of the top locations with the highest demand for locum tenens physicians in 2022.
We often think of California as a highly populated state, but the truth is that many areas of California are rural with limited access to healthcare. Currently, seven million Californians live in areas with a shortage of primary care physicians. Plus, this number will only get worse as Californians and their doctors age. By 2030, one in five Californian will be 65 years or older, and with that comes increased demand for doctors across specialties. Another thing to note is that California is a very diverse state, yet underrepresented populations have higher barriers to healthcare. Locum tenens physicians can help fill the age and the representation gap.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that California offers ample opportunities to enjoy yourself after hours with more than 1000 miles of beaches and 280 state parks.
The Lone Star State is second highest on our list of top locations where locum tenens physicians are in high demand. The Texas Department of State Health Services projects the shortage of physicians will nearly double in Texas in the coming years. As of 2018, there was a shortage of 6,218 full-time equivalent physicians, but by 2030 that number will skyrocket to 10,330. General internal medicine is projected to have the highest shortage among specialties, with a shortage of more than 2,600 physicians by 2032. In addition, the shortage among family medicine specialists will more than double by 2032. These two trends are a result of an aging population and being the fastest-growing state in the country.
If you’ve never been to Texas you’re in for a treat. From delicious regional cuisine — like Texas BBQ and Tex-Mex — to a thriving music scene, Texas has a lot to offer in terms of culture and night life.
Pennsylvania's physician shortage may not be as dire as in some states on this list, but it still predicts a shortage of 1,039 primary care physicians by 2030. A shortage of primary care physicians has led to long wait times for minor illnesses and symptoms.
According to Dr. Mary Stock Keister, an Allentown physician, “The inability of people to get care in the time frame they need…is making them look for it in other places.” This has increased demand for locum tenens family medicine, urgent care, and emergency medicine physicians.
The number of physicians in Washington State is growing, particularly in primary care. However, the number of physicians isn't proportionately distributed across counties. In fact, Washington is home to four of the 15 U.S. counties with the highest physician shortages. Washington leadership is working on an interesting initiative to address this disparity. In 2021, Governor Jay Inslee signed a law that removes barriers for international medical graduates, making it easier for them to practice in the state. This is not only good for improving access, it's a sign of just how much Washington needs more doctors.
And with a wide variety of recreational opportunities — from scenic coastlines to lush forests — Washington is a great state to visit.
Wisconsin has an aging population with an increasing demand for medical coverage. In 2015, Wisconsin only had nine counties where less than 20% of the population was 60 or younger. But by 2030, no county will have less than 20% of people 60 or younger. In fact, ten counties will have populations where more than 40% of people are 60 and older. This requires more primary care doctors and specialists for the unique medical needs of an aging population.
For outdoor lovers, Wisconsin boasts more than 15,000 lakes, including borders on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
6. New York
In many parts of New York, the population is aging faster than the rest of the U.S. population, and the state is experiencing a shortage of physicians that is projected to get worse. New York City has seen the most significant increase in its physician shortage, which was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest cause of this physician shortage is that physicians in some areas are retiring faster than new physicians are entering. This is particularly the case among cardiovascular, psychiatry, urology, ophthalmology, and other surgical specialties.
New York City is a bucket list city for just about anyone, but New York State also has lots to explore as well — from Niagara Falls to the Hudson Valley.
Rural parts of Illinois are currently facing a physician shortage that's growing as well. Nationally, the physician to population ratio is 295 physicians per 100,000 people. However, in rural Illinois, that ratio is currently at 45.5. Physicians often migrate toward more populated areas because they pay better and offer a greater variety of work, but that leaves rural residents with long waits for primary care physicians and long drives for any specialists. Locum tenens physicians offer a great solution; they bring the experience to take care of a variety of patients, and the higher pay for locum physicians can make it financially worthwhile to work in rural areas, not just in Illinois, but across the country.