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Image: AMN Healthcare.

Finding qualified medical professionals has always been a tough task for hospitals and other medical facilities. From major networks like HCA Holdings (NYSE:HCA) to single unaffiliated local facilities, getting staff on board to meet the needs of the community can be a big challenge. That's why AMN Healthcare (NYSE:AMN) plays such an important role for its customers, helping to connect them with the right personnel for the job.

Coming into its third-quarter financial report, AMN Healthcare investors had few doubts that the company would keep growing, but the healthcare staffing specialist's gains were unexpectedly big. Let's look more closely at how AMN Healthcare did during the quarter, and what could lie ahead for the staffing specialist in the future.

AMN has never looked better
AMN Healthcare's third-quarter results continued the company's streak of solid performance. Revenue soared 45%, to $382.9 million, absolutely crushing the 28% growth rate that most investors would have been content to see. Net income nearly quadrupled from year-ago figures. Even after accounting for various extraordinary items, adjusted earnings of $0.48 per share were more than double what the company brought in last year, and topped the consensus forecast by $0.18 per share.

As we've seen in past quarters, all three of AMN's major divisions had strong fundamentals. The key nurse and allied healthcare staffing unit brings in the bulk of AMN's revenue, and it saw sales jump 53%, causing net income nearly to double from the year-ago quarter. Temporary locum-tenens business enjoyed a 29% rise in revenue, as did the physician permanent placement services unit. Profit gains in both of the latter divisions weren't quite as strong as in nurse and allied healthcare staffing, but they still grew between 64% and 65% each. Gross margins for all three units climbed compared to the third quarter of 2014.

CEO Susan Salka was happy with the company's performance. "In addition to our focus on organic growth," Salka said, "we continue to expand AMN's capabilities, including our most recent acquisitions of The First String and Millican Solutions, which further bolster our physician executive and nurse leadership recruitment capabilities." The moves only highlight the importance that strategic acquisitions and industry consolidation have had on AMN's results.

Will AMN Healthcare stay healthy?
As if the company's third-quarter results weren't good enough, AMN also gave favorable guidance for the current quarter. AMN Healthcare sees fourth-quarter revenue coming in between $385 million and $390 million, which compares favorably with the current consensus estimate of $366 million. Margins may contract a bit from their strong levels in the third quarter, but the guidance on the whole is extremely optimistic for the healthcare staffing specialist.

A lot of AMN's future success depends on continued demand for skilled medical professionals. Right now, the favorable trends in the medical industry show no signs of slowing down, with HCA Holdings actively recruiting physicians to serve its patients throughout its network. As competition heats up between HCA and its rivals, finding the highest-quality professionals will become even more important. If AMN can keep its finger on the pulse of the labor market for healthcare services, and keep offering high-quality prospects to potential employers, then success for HCA and other industry giants will mean success for AMN and the people it taps to fill key roles at hospitals and healthcare facilities.

AMN Healthcare has seen its stock fall in recent months as part of a general exodus from healthcare stocks, in general. Yet in an environment in which cost-containment and efficiency are becoming more important, AMN actually has better prospects than many of its peers to excel by providing the same vital services it always has.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends AMN Healthcare Services. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.