The ‘Great Untethering’: Clinicians are taking more contract roles, self-employing

Alexis Kayser (Email)

Nurses and physicians are increasingly opting for contract roles and self-employment, according to a recent study from LinkedIn. The company termed this phenomenon the “Great Untethering.” 

LinkedIn’s economic graph team examined the percentage of nurses, physicians and mental health professionals in contract or self-employed professions from 2020 to 2022. 

Across all three professions, contract and self-employment roles rose between 2020 and 2022. There are several reasons why, most stemming from COVID-19. The pandemic shifted the healthcare landscape, putting work-from-home opportunities like telemedicine at the forefront. It helped ease the stigma around contract labor — for physicians in particular — as hospitals became reliant on traveling workers to fill care gaps. And as burnout rises within the profession, more healthcare workers are embracing flexible opportunities.

Here are five findings from LinkedIn’s study: 

1. In 2022, 23.1 percent of nurses listed contract labor on their LinkedIn profiles, up from 13.7 percent in 2020.

2. In 2022, 4.9 percent of physicians listed contract labor, up from 3.7 percent in 2020. 

3. More physicians are reporting self-employment, too: 4.6 percent in 2022 compared to under 3 percent in 2020. 

4. More than 11 percent of mental health professionals list contract work, up from 7.1 percent in 2020. Similarly, 16.6 percent now report self-employment compared to 10.1 percent in 2020. 

5. In 2022, the top three hirers of mental health professionals were telehealth companies.

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