Imagine, if you can, a staffing market that had median growth of 18% last year, appears to be slowing only slightly this year (to the abysmally slow pace of only 15%), has 30% gross margins and hourly bill rates approaching $200 per hour.
I had the privilege of spending a couple days in that world last week, at the annual meeting of the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) and the National Association of Physician Recruiters (NAPR). Attendance at the conference was at record levels (around 200 people attending) and was up about 20% over 2007 levels.
Needless to say, the mood of the conference was pretty good, with the principal challenge being one of growing and/or recruiting more physicians to take locums assignments (no easy task for sure). I suspect that this will get looked at some day as a real golden period for the physician staffing industry since growth like this can't go on forever.
At the conference, I presented the first ever benchmark study of NALTO members conducted by SIA (hence the stats above). It's a fascinating group to look at, and in many ways the ultimate representation of the trend toward professional staffing, complete with huge pay and bill rates, incredibly tight recruiting and talent that typically operates in an independent contractor mode.
What's next for this high flying group? On the locums side, stay tuned for a bit more competition thanks to lower (but still hefty) medical malpractice insurance costs.
If you want to learn more about the world of locum tenens, please be sure to join us at the 2008 Healthcare Staffing Summit, which takes place in San Francisco September 8-10.
Meanwhile, for those in physician staffing, it's back to life in overdrive, while the rest of the industry is adjusting to crawling along in the slow lane at 5 mph as the economy cools.