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The True Cost of Locums: A Free Guide for Understaffed Healthcare Facilities


Staffing shortages and a high turnover rate have rippled through the healthcare sector for several years. The COVID-19 pandemic and burnout escalated these issues, costing facilities billions of dollars (1). These costs are harming healthcare facilities and ultimately threaten patient care.  

In a recent report by Kaufman Hall (2), over 60% of hospitals experienced longer stays for patients and a reduction in capacity due to a lack of staff. The staffing shortage is expected to continue as our population ages and healthcare providers retire (3).  

By hiring long-term locum tenens providers, facilities can mitigate turnover and replace retired providers. Locum Tenens arrive refreshed and ready. They have a higher capacity for cases in order to increase revenue and decrease burnout. Additionally, the costs lost to training, benefits, bonuses, and more are saved.

The Costs of Burnout, Turnover, and Vacancy: 

  • The average revenue produced in Q4 2022 by a full-time physician was $397,493 (4). Thus, the average cost of a physician vacancy can be up to $1,589,972 annually. 
  • The average cost of replacing a physician is two to three times their salary (5). According to U.S. News, the average physician’s salary was $252,480 in 2021 (6). Therefore, the cost to replace one physician would be approximately $504,960 to $757,440. 
  • The average time it takes to recruit, train, and implement a new physician is about 18 months (7). 


Many facilities may be apprehensive about hiring locum healthcare providers due to the associated expenses. Locum tenens healthcare providers are the solution to understaffed communities.

The True Cost of Locums:

  • For a locum physician, the amount of revenue they produce is more than their cost. 
  • The average rate range for a locum physician can be from $150/hr to $550/hr depending on specialty, call, and other factors. If a doctor works 40 hours a week on average with 4 weeks off per year, the locum provider will cost $288,000 to $1,056,000 annually. 
  • Depending on a healthcare facility’s needs, locum providers can be credentialed and in the door in 30 days or less. 


Locum providers keep operating rooms open and revenue flowing– it is a smart investment. Led by an executive team with more than 30 years of experience crafting innovative healthcare workforce solutions, ICON Medical Network offers a variety of service offerings including locum tenens, permanent placements, RPO, and MSP. Our passion is connecting talented Physicians, Dentists, Dental Hygienists, and Advanced Practice Providers with healthcare facilities nationwide. 

Our goal is to get to know providers and to learn their motivations, professional limitations, and strengths. All our providers undergo a rigorous verification process.  By nature, providers who prefer locums are adaptable, outgoing, and knowledgeable. 

Learn more about how ICON Medical Network can help meet your staffing needs. 

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  1. https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2021/09/AHA-KH-Ebook-Financial-Effects-of-COVID-Outlook-9-21-21.pdf 
  2. https://www.kaufmanhall.com/sites/default/files/2022-10/2022-State-Healthcare-Performance-Improvement.pdf 
  3. https://www.aamc.org/media/54681/download 
  4. https://www.kaufmanhall.com/sites/default/files/2023-01/KH_PFR_2023-01.pdf 
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331809963_Trends_and_Factors_Associated_With_Physician_Burnout_at_a_Multispecialty_Academic_Faculty_Practice_Organization 
  6. https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/physician/salary 
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16833069/