Locum Tenens vs. In-house: Where should the Healthcare Staffing Focus More? 

Presently, there is some clamor about utilizing locum tenens to solve the impending nursing shortage in the US. Locum tenens usually refers to doctors who are temporary workers. However, with the nursing shortage, its usage now extends to nurses and other medical practitioners who serve at a hospital in a limited capacity.  

With many nurses who have left and are currently leaving the medical field, the idea of locum tenens may be a good option for healthcare staffing. Not requiring nurses to stay permanently or for long hours could entice them to still serve and contribute to the causes of the health industry. 

Locum Tenens: A Closer Look 

Locum tenens is a Latin term that translates in English to “hold the place” or “hold the position.” It’s been a practice of doctors and nurses to create a network of potential locum tenens to cover for them in case they miss their shifts. Indeed, temporary medical workers are now part of what’s keeping hospitals afloat nowadays.  

A survey reveals that 96 percent of hospital respondents have been hiring locum tenens in the past year to address the current nursing shortage.1 However, while the idea of employing part-time nurses may seem to help medical institutions keep up with current demands, it may not help with longer-term workforce problems.  

The optimum choice is still to have a set of nurses who will not say goodbye after a few months of service and are there to prove their loyalty to their discern profession for a long time.  

Healthcare staffing firms like PRS Global agree that it’s still better to opt for in-house nurses rather than maintain the ebb and flow of locum tenens. However, before shifting your search for part-timers into full-time employees, check out the following ideas why healthcare staffing should focus more on hiring full-time employees. 

Patients need consistent care. 

For long-term patients, familiarity with their conditions is key in bringing them closer to recovery. Also, these patients build trust and comfort with specific nurses and doctors who have been treating them.  

There’s nothing wrong with having shifts in personnel because all hospital employees hold the necessary qualifications and know-how in addressing patient needs. However, for nurses who have built rapport with their assigned patients and won over their trust, the emotional connection adds to the speed of recuperation. 

A change in nurses brings the trust factor back to zero. With locum tenens saying goodbye midway through the patient’s stay and having a new face greet them could affect recovery. The new nurse might take time to learn about the patient’s needs, understand their conditions, and moreover, win their trust. These do take a toll on the patient’s comfort level. This dilemma won’t happen if you have permanent-employed nurses in your healthcare staffing slate. 

Taking care of in-house nurses may be left out. 

The constant entrance and exit of locum tenens mean the continued efforts of your human resources department to be on the lookout for nurses willing to do a part-time stint. While it can be argued that it’s the job of your recruiters to look for new hires, the constant effort could have been conserved with having more in-house nurses at hand. This way, human resources may focus on improving the welfare of hospital employees and even setting up programs to forward their skills and capabilities in medicine.

How about starting on that much-needed mental health program for nurses and doctors? In a recent study, 34 percent of nurses aren’t emotionally healthy. In another survey, 25 percent of leaders and 34 percent of managers within the respondents are not emotionally healthy as well. 

With human resources having more time on their hands not worrying about locum tenens, they can focus on setting up wellness programs. HR can also give hospital employees a chance to talk about their struggles regarding mental and emotional health. New and tenured nurses can be scheduled for training in using new technology within the hospital, which in turn will improve service to their patients. 

Remember: locum tenens come and go, but there are nurses within your current workforce who are willing to stay and battle out the manpower shortage with you. Invest in them, as they have vowed to invest in your institution as well. 

Locum tenens is not a long-term solution. 

Speaking of investing in in-house nurses, having an assured population of nurses for a foreseeable future brings more benefits than searching again every six months or so. While there is always the option of renewing locum tenens, there’s no security in that. Take note that at least a good number of locum tenens seek experience and exposure in different professional environments. Staying in one hospital won’t cut it for them.  

While locum tenens is a lot cheaper because of not paying for their taxes and employment benefits, try calculating from a long-term perspective. How many part-time nurses do you have to hire to cover the year-long shift of one in-house nurse? Monetary expenses aren’t the only ones wasted here. Efforts to scour job-hunting websites, reading through applications, training, and orientation for new employeesall that time and effort could have been channeled towards caring for patients or improving hospital processes and staff. 

There is no need to shut your hospital off from hiring locum tenens completely. Just be careful not to make this the main solution to your staffing problems. After all, many nurses out there have dedicated their lives to this profession, particularly those outside the US. These international nurses are willing to relocate to the US to serve in their profession. When it comes to gathering them together, PRS Global can help.


Nursing staff with varied international backgrounds and specializationshow does that sound? These nurses will surely take the opportunity of being employed at a US hospital in a permanent capacity because to them, chances like these do not come often.  

By tapping into the capabilities of a premier healthcare staffing firm like PRS Global, you are assured of getting only the best. PRS Global understands what it takes to rally together a workforce of nurses from all corners of the world.

There are other services PRS Global will extend to you in building your nursing workforce. Assistance in relocation expenses, licensure preparations, and even legal matters like immigration can be given to newly-hired nurses. PRS Global is also dedicated to looking after these immigrant nurses through the Bright HorizonsTM Transition Program.  

New nurses are assisted in adjusting to their new working and living environment through programs dedicated to looking after their well-being and building a community of support. Think of how much work is taken from your hands so your hospital can focus on the concerns of your current workforce because PRS Global only promises the best for you and your future international nurses.  

In-house nurses are the future of the medicine industry. Invest in this future by talking to PRS Global today!