By Clark Wells, Director of Physician Recruiting
Telemedicine careers for physicians are becoming more popular. The growth in virtual physicians has come a long way over the past decade, but perhaps not so far and fast as over the past twelve months. The pandemic brought telemedicine into the homes and practices of millions of Americans and accelerated the rate of adoption for both patients and physicians.
According to Doximity’s 2020 State of Telemedicine Report, the number of physicians who self-reported telemedicine as a skillset increased annually by 20% between 2015 and 2018. That number jumped to 38% just between 2019 and 2020. Telemedicine enabled more physicians to practice from the comfort and safety of their homes than ever before. And, the benefit to patients who might not have otherwise received care cannot be overstated.
This experience changed physicians’ perception of telemedicine. As a result, most of the candidates we engage today no longer consider it just a workaround or a sometimes thing. They’re now interested in full-time telemedicine careers.
Telemedicine jobs vs telemedicine careers
Until now, the phrase, “telemedicine careers” has been a bit of a misnomer. Type “telemedicine jobs” into Google Trends and you’ll find a steadily increasing rise in search volume beginning around mid-2017, and, as you might expect, a gigantic spike in March 2020. In contrast, searches related to “telemedicine careers” are barely a blip. It may seem semantic, but to a physician recruiter, the difference is critical.
We built SOC Telemed by convincing specialty physicians to practice their craft in a different medium. Many were skeptical at first and most who joined were independent contractors who just wanted to supplement their income. Very few candidates were willing to jump aboard full time. What a difference a decade—and a pandemic—makes.
Today, we’re the nation’s largest virtual practice and have delivered over 1,000,000 telemedicine consults. Our physician practice include teleIntensivists, teleNeurologists, and telePsychiatrists. The majority of them are full-time employees. Being at the leading edge of telemedicine has paid terrific dividends for us. Those early investments created incredible clinical depth.
What makes a good telemedicine physician?
Many physicians are now transitioning from a private practice, an academic position, or a hospital staff role and seeking full-time telemedicine careers. They want to increase their clinical impact as well as their work/life balance. More specialists are inquiring about career opportunities at SOC than in any other time in our sixteen year history.
We expect to capitalize on this new found interest and expand our clinical capacity in 2021. This growth, however, will not come at the expense of quality. We’re most interested in physicians who share our core values. We prize motivated, highly-qualified candidates who demonstrate a commitment to clinical quality as well as accountability. Our virtual practice personifies these values and we expect all new candidates to contribute to this culture.
We’ve always believed in the power of telemedicine and it’s particularly gratifying to be able to realize that potential and deliver the highest quality care nationwide.
A shift in physicians’ perception of telemedicine
2020 was truly a year like no other. It’s hard to imagine a recent twelve-month period with so much change, challenge and chaos. In healthcare, however, 2020 was a watershed for telemedicine. It refocused priorities for hospitals and healthcare systems as well as for patients and physicians. The pandemic also produced a dramatic reduction in regulatory barriers along with sizable investments in telemedicine technology and platforms.
But I believe the greatest outcome from last year is the shift in physicians’ perception of telemedicine. It’s no longer science fiction, a short term solution, or just a side hustle. Telemedicine is now a viable career option.
Clark Wells is the Director of Physician Recruiting for SOC Telemed. If you are interested in exploring a telemedicine career, please visit our physician careers page and submit your CV.