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 10 of the top locations with the highest demand for locum tenens physicians in 2023 to help you start your job search.
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, the California Department of Finance projects that one in five Californians 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 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.
Wisconsin has an aging population with an increasing demand for medical coverage. In 2015, Wisconsin had zero counties with more than 40% of the population over age 60. However, by 2040, projections place 16 Wisconsin counties in this bracket. This requires more primary care doctors and specialists for the unique medical needs of an aging population.
Plus, according to Medscape’s 2023 compensation report, Wisconsin is the best-paid state for physicians. Here, doctors earn an average of $397,000 a year before factoring in additional bonuses and financial incentives.
For outdoor lovers, Wisconsin boasts more than 15,000 lakes, including access to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. We’ll leave you with two final words: cheese curds.
The number of physicians in Washington State is growing, particularly in primary care. However, it 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, but also 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.
The difficulty of finding healthcare in many parts of the Hoosier State is real. As in other states, Indiana’s primary care physicians are disproportionately concentrated in high-population urban areas. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies nearly one-third of Indiana’s 92 counties as “physician shortage areas.”
The lack of access in underserved rural areas across the state is made worse when the overall health of its residents is considered. In 2022, Indiana ranked 35th overall in the nation based on all public health measures evaluated by America’s Health Rankings. From infant mortality to smoking rates and diabetes, Hoosiers fall below average on a wide range of public health measures.
That said, it’s not all bad news in this Midwestern gem. Its high need for physicians comes with a handsome salary to match. The state was a newcomer to the podium in Medscape’s 2023 compensation report as the second highest-paid state for physicians in the nation, earning an average of $372,000 a year. Plus, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried an Indiana tenderloin “sandwich.”
The healthcare industry is thriving in Arizona, making it a great place for job seekers to find the next step in their careers. Over the next decade, the state’s healthcare industry expects a 36% employment growth rate, equal to 99,400 healthcare jobs. The state is lacking in specialty areas that do the most to improve community health, like primary care, family medicine, and obstetrics.
This projected demand exacerbates current challenges facing the state, such as its acute physician shortage in rural Arizona. According to research by the Arizona Center for Rural Health, the state has a shortage of 560 primary care physicians right now and 1,941 more will be needed by 2030 because of retirements, population increases, higher rates of chronic disease, and an aging population.
If the hot summer temperatures in the Copper State make you want to move elsewhere, consider this: the weather hovers around highs of 68 degrees between December and May, and most of the state gets an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.
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 313 physicians per 100,000 people. However, in rural Illinois, that ratio is currently at 45. 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.
Illinois offers many attractions for physicians who enjoy visiting new places. From Chicago’s blues scene to the beautiful Land of Lincoln, there’s much to enjoy after you hang up your white coat and clock off.
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.
Nationally, the U.S. struggles to institute affordable and accessible healthcare, but Oregon has a long history of success. In the late eighties and early nineties, the Oregon state legislature enacted a series of laws known as the Oregon Health Plan, which extended Medicaid coverage to low-income Oregonians including working families, children, pregnant women, single adults, and seniors.
Oregon has one of the highest numbers of doctors per 100,000 residents in the country, with a rate of 313 active physicians. This is surprising considering that more than half of Oregon’s 62 community hospitals are in rural counties.
Maybe it's because Oregon has something to offer physicians with hobbies across a variety of disciplines. Its famous rocky coastline, rugged forests, and ski hills appeal to the outdoorsy among us, while the art and culture of “weird and wonderful” Portland is one of a kind.
The Lone Star State rounds out 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 the coming years. As of 2018, there was a shortage of 6,218 full-time-equivalent physicians, but by 2032 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 one of the fastest-growing states in the country, following only Florida and Idaho.
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 nightlife.
Interested in learning more about locum tenens opportunities in these or other U.S. states? We can help you with a locum tenens assignment there. Give us a call or view today’s locum tenens job openings.