Home From The Editor Per diem: a fact of hospital medicine

Per diem: a fact of hospital medicine

March 2018

WHY WOULD HOSPITALISTS want to work as freelance physicians? We ask that question in our cover story, which takes a look at the growing trend of per diem hospitalists.

In the gig economy, the perks of working per diem are obvious to many physicians—and particularly to younger hospitalists. Per diem physicians have more flexibility in the shifts they work, and they have complete freedom to choose the types of practices they work for and for how long.

But as our story points out, some hospitalists have more complicated reasons to work per diem. Some have tried working as full-time employees, but they felt burned when those groups suddenly changed management or direction. As per diem physicians, they can simply leave a group if they end up facing that kind of situation again.

There can be downsides of working per diem, particularly for physicians who don’t want to work with a locum agency. You have to pay your own taxes and insurance, for example, and you need to find your own work and negotiate your own terms, although none of the per diem hospitalists we talked to worry about keeping busy. Perhaps the biggest downside is that just as physicians can walk away from a per diem job quickly and easily if things go bad, employers can let those doctors go just as quickly.

At the same time, program directors may have their own concerns about using per diem physicians, who some administrators and physicians worry aren’t always as dedicated as full-timers. Still, the group managers we speak with view per diems as a necessary and inevitable staffing option.

The reality is that, for now at least, per diem physicians are a fact of life for many hospitalist programs, one that physicians and programs alike are learning to live with.

Edward Doyle
Editor & Publisher


Published in the March 2018 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
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