The cost and overhead of running a private practice have overwhelmed many doctors in recent years. Facing increased paperwork, tighter insurance regulations and restrictions, and shrinking medical reimbursements, many doctors–especially primary care physicians–have given up their private practices and looked for alternatives.

Among these alternatives are temporary staffing agencies for doctors, which have become one of the fastest growing health care trends this decade.

Known in the industry as “locum tenens”–Latin for “holding the place of”– these agencies send some doctors traveling from city to city to work in clinics. The agencies may also place temporary doctors for certain specialties that suffer from physician shortages or place them in facilities and practices that have temporary needs due to vacation or maternity absences. The physicians working on a temporary basis include primary care physicians and specialists who are needed in rural areas.

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