Family Nurse Practitioners Are More in Demand Than Doctors

It’s long been the practice of many hospitals and the healthcare sector to hire or recruit primary care doctors when they need to fill in vacancies in their medical staff. Internists and family physicians were the most in-demand.

Lately though, this hiring pattern of putting more importance on internists and family doctors when it comes to filling medical staff positions has changed. Today, nurse practitioners have moved up the ranks, and are sometimes even ranked above doctors with specialties on the “looking to hire” lists. Just like physician assistants, they  are the one filling the critical shortages in healthcare and hospital workforce.

This shift in the pattern of employment trends of the US health care sector is common knowledge among Health Care companies. One of the reasons identified is the emerging global emphasis on keeping more people in good health as much as possible over profits – legalized by the Affordable Care Act, and promoted not only by private health plans through insurance benefits payments, but also by employers and by the US government. Now the old practice of fee-for-service medicine is being replaced by the more value-based outpatient care delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants employed by family doctors.

A subsidiary of AMN Healthcare, Merritt Hawkins, that works with medical groups, hospitals, and other health care institutions on the recruiting and hiring process of medical workforce, is allowed firsthand access to any relevant information about their work. In a previous report, they indicated that the team-based, population health model of the US healthcare still lists primary care physicians as their number one recruiting target, but physician assistants and nurse practitioners are their target 1A. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are the main source of support in building patient access and satisfaction.

The most recent report on U.S. healthcare workforce by Merritt Hawkins reflects the fact that searches and recruitment for family physicians, psychiatrists, and internists today are higher compared to searches and recruitment for nurse practitioners. Out of more than 3,200 searches made in one year for 11 consecutive years, their database disclosed that family doctors are the most frequently recruited doctors, followed by psychiatrists and  Internists. All of these changes in the latest trends are attributed to the nationwide shortage of behavioral specialists. Next in rank – in fourth place – are nurse practitioners, ranking above 15 physician specialties.

According to the American Association for Nurse Practitioners, the demand for nurse practitioners is escalating as more and more states award patients who need primary care with easy and convenient access to these increasingly popular health professionals by systematically eliminating hurdles through state sponsored legislations.

The demand for nurse practitioners has never been this high. Nowadays, more and more patients have direct access to high-quality nurse practitioner care, including veterans’ health system, due to the growth of full practice authority in 22 states, including DC.

Several states, such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania, are also considering full-practice authority, as AANP points out.  Said state activities just followed the latest decisions of the Department of Veterans Affairs to grant direct access to registered nurses with more advanced skills.

According to Merritt Hawkins, the prevailing consumerism of the U.S. healthcare system is behind the general public’s increasing demand for nurse practitioners. Other areas where nurse practitioners are highly recruited and currently employed are retail clinics. CVS Health with 0.94%, and Walgreens Boots Alliance WBA with nurse practitioners making up +1.23% of their staff, offering to provide quick access to treatment of common and ordinary illnesses. They are also highly recruited to work in doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, and urgent care centers.

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