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Patient Issues Author: Melissa Byington, President of CompHealth Locum Tenens Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Physician Stress Affecting Patient Care

By Melissa Byington, President of CompHealth Locum Tenens
Apr 20, 2012 - 7:59:09 PM

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( - As a leading physician staffing company, we at CompHealth are hearing more frequently from doctors searching for alternative practice options to combat burnout. To better understand this trend, we partnered with a top market research company to survey 1,000 physicians about workplace stress.

Our findings clearly show that doctors are concerned not only about stress due to insufficient rest and the monotony that often comes with the job, but also how it affects their quality of work. While it’s widely regarded that job stress negatively impacts work quality, for physicians, the impact can have a more damaging effect. It’s important that we address these stress and burnout issues for the sake of patient care.

According to the survey, 63 percent of the doctors were concerned about the impact of stress-related factors. What can be done to alleviate this problem? When physicians come to CompHealth searching for answers, the solution we offer them is to try locum tenens.

Locum tenens describes a physician who fulfills short-term assignments at medical facilities on a contract basis. They work side-by-side with the facility’s permanent physicians, enabling the staff to work a less demanding schedule, and take time off when it's needed and deserved.

The locum tenens physicians also benefit because they are able to work a more flexible schedule while enjoying professional development and personal fulfillment. The experience they gain from different practice settings and diverse patient cases helps them learn new techniques as well as share knowledge and skills.

Enabling physicians to control their work schedule helps reduce stress, ensuring they are working to the best of their ability when they are examining patients. It’s startling that 67 percent of all physicians we surveyed are often forced to choose between resting and effectively serving patients. As locum tenens, physicians are less likely to have to make that choice.

Some of the highlights of the physician stress survey include:

Seventy-four percent of hospital physicians are less likely to get the rest they need as compared to 64 percent of private practice physicians
Forty-five percent of survey respondents believe patient care would improve if more doctors had avenues to avoid burnout and monotony; an additional 28 percent felt the opportunity to work on new cases was important in this area
Twenty-five percent believe the quality of care would improve if doctors were given the opportunity to contribute to under-served areas
Ten percent indicated they would appreciate working on high-risk cases that challenge them to improve quality of care
It has been our experience that the locum tenens option provides significant relief to physicians experiencing burnout. They arrive at the facilities certified, credentialed, refreshe,d and motivated to serve their new communities; benefiting the patient and resulting in better patient outcomes. No wonder 92 percent of the physicians we surveyed have a very favorable view of locum tenens and believe it to be a worthy practice option to explore.

Melissa Byington is president of CompHealth locum tenens (, the founder and leading provider of locum tenens. The CompHealth Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 U.S. physicians ages 25+, between February 3rd and February 17th 2012, using an email invitation and an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. A full methodology is available upon request.

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