- With more states allowing direct access to nurse practitioners, demand for NPs is outpacing most doctors, Forbes reports. Family physicians were in highest demand, followed by psychiatrists, internists and nurse practitioners. OB-GYNs rounded out the top five.
- The news comes from MerrittHawkins’ 2017 U.S. healthcare workforce report, which also found the average nurse practitioner salary up in 2016/17 to $123,000, from $117,000 a year earlier. Salaries were highest in the Midwest and Great Plains states and at hospitals.
- The trend could pick up as states look for ways to increase access to primary care for more patients.
Fueling demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistant are the move to value-based care and population health, as well as the rise of retail clinics and consumer demand for more convenient, lower-cost care.
“Convenient care settings can be staffed by primary physicians and emergency medicine physicians, and by advanced PAs and NPs, which will further drive demand for these types of clinician,” the report notes. And these facilities are expanding beyond primary care to vision, hearing and behavioral health, creating more opportunities for NPs to provide patient care.
Nurses recognize they are playing a larger role in patient care management, and most expect this trend to rise further. And while most nurses love their jobs, they are also getting burnt out. A recent survey found that nine in 10 had thought about leaving their job because of poor work/life balance. Hospitals should strive to keep their nurses on board. Midlevel providers are seen as key to physician shortage concerns, especially with high rates of turnover in the industry.
NPs and PAs could also help address the shortage of specialist physicians by incorporating them into specialist practices, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and RAND Corporation. In a letter published online Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, they note the number of NPs and PAs providing patient care in specialty practices has increased over the past decade, not just for routine and return visits, but for new patients and acute visits as well.
For example, the proportion of NPs or PAs involved in visits to surgical and medical specialist physicians grew from 3.3% in 2001-2003 to 6.9% in 2010-2013, the letter states. Meanwhile, the share of visits where the patient did not see a physician rose from 12.3% to 21.4%.
“In adjusted analysis, NPs or PAs were disproportionately involved in care of patients with greater medical complexity, requiring further work to understand if this reflects team-based care, coding artifact, or other explanations," the researchers said.