Filling the Growing Gap in Geriatric Care with Locum Tenens Physicians

by Amy Brooksbank | Jul 07, 2023 |
Filling the Growing Gap in Geriatric Care with Locum Tenens Physicians

The U.S. is experiencing a significant demographic shift driven by a rapidly aging population. By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65, meaning that 1 in every 5 U.S. residents will be of retirement age. This presages specific healthcare challenges in caring for age-related chronic diseases, multiple comorbidities, and functional decline. Currently this group accounts for 34% of physician demand. However, according to the Association for American Medical Colleges, by 2034 people over 65 will account for 42% of the demand for physicians. This means that while people in this age cohort required 280,700 physicians to provide their care in 2019, they will need up to 407,300 physicians by 2034. As the need for geriatric care continues to grow, the demand for healthcare professionals, including locum tenens physicians, will need to increase to fill the gap in demand.

What are the Unique Medical Needs of Older Adults?

Working with older adults includes specific considerations and skills due to the unique challenges and intricacies of caring for geriatric patients. Medical professionals need to be able to evaluate and treat their physical, cognitive, functional, and psychosocial needs to develop effective individualized care plans. Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, estimates that over 60% of citizens over 65 will require long-term care. This subpopulation is also likely to have the highest rate of chronic diseases and, thus, a greater need for long-term care services.

birthday cake

Medical Conditions and Comorbidities

Older adults often present with complex medical conditions and comorbidities, requiring comprehensive care management. Specific expertise in managing the complexities of multiple chronic conditions, improving patient outcomes, and reducing healthcare costs will be essential to meet these needs adequately.

Physiological Changes

The aging process brings about physiological changes that necessitate specialized medical attention. From age-related changes in metabolism to altered medication absorption and distribution, older adults require individualized treatment plans.

Psychological Changes

Geriatric patients often face psychological and cognitive challenges, such as dementia or depression. Physicians well-versed in geriatric care can navigate these complex issues and provide appropriate interventions, promoting optimal health and well-being.

Preventive Care and Health Promotion

Regular health screenings, vaccination programs, fall prevention strategies, and lifestyle modifications are crucial components of geriatric care. By focusing on preventive care, doctors can help older adults maintain their functional abilities and prevent or delay the onset of age-related diseases.

elderly preventive exercise

Patient-Centered Care

Older adults deserve dignity, respect, and comprehensive medical attention tailored to their unique needs. By adopting a patient-centered approach, physicians can foster meaningful doctor-patient relationships and engage in shared decision-making, promoting autonomy and quality of life for their geriatric patients as they continue to age and often transfer into long-term care settings.

How Can Locum Tenens Staffing Contribute to Improved Geriatric Care?

Utilizing locum tenens physicians in geriatric care brings numerous benefits. These include  consistent and critical access to care when it is needed, scheduling flexibility that eases the pressure on staff, and an exchange of ideas on how best to support an aging population.

1. Flexible Coverage and Continuity of Care

One of the significant advantages of employing locum tenens physicians is their ability to provide flexible coverage. This is crucial to providing quality care to this population. With the growing demand for geriatric services, it can be challenging to maintain a consistent healthcare workforce. Locum tenens physicians can step in during staffing shortages, vacations, or leaves, ensuring continuous care for geriatric patients without disruptions. This flexibility allows healthcare organizations to optimize their staffing resources and maintain consistent care delivery.

2. Timely Access to Care

Geriatric patients often face delays in accessing specialized care due to various factors such as provider shortages or long wait times. By utilizing locum tenens physicians, healthcare organizations can improve access to care for older adults, particularly crucial for geriatric patients who may have complex medical conditions requiring immediate evaluation and treatment.

3. Expertise in Geriatric Medicine

Locum tenens physicians who have expertise or experience in geriatric medicine can bring valuable insights and practices to the care of this population. These physicians are well-versed in managing age-related chronic conditions, promoting preventive care, and addressing the specific challenges of geriatric patients such as polypharmacy and cognitive impairments.

Locum Tenens Staffing

4. Fresh Perspectives and Knowledge Exchange

Locum tenens physicians bring fresh perspectives and experiences to geriatric care settings. They often work in different healthcare systems and have exposure to diverse patient populations. This diversity of backgrounds and experiences for knowledge exchange and the introduction of innovative approaches to care. Locum tenens physicians can share best practices, introduce new treatment modalities, and contribute to the continuous improvement of geriatric care delivery.

5. Physician Burnout and Workload

Geriatric care can be demanding and emotionally challenging, leading to physician burnout and increased workload. By incorporating locum tenens physicians into the healthcare team medical institutions can provide temporary relief, allowing permanent healthcare providers to recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

6. Seamless Transitions and Care Continuity

Locum tenens physicians excel in seamlessly transitioning into new care environments. They are adept at quickly adapting to the workflows and systems of different healthcare organizations, ensuring minimal disruption to patient care. This seamless transition allows for better care continuity for geriatric patients, preventing gaps in treatment or follow-up appointments.

The growing aging population demands a focused approach to geriatric care. Using locum tenens physicians enables healthcare organizations to provide comprehensive and high-quality care for older adults, and fill staffing gaps to ensure their unique needs are met with expertise and compassion.




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