Doctor Shortage? Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners are here to help.

Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners may ease projected physician shortage

Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, and Physician Assistants in Physician Offices 1
“Among all three specialty categories, physicians in larger practices were more likely to have NPs, CNMs, or PAs compared with those in smaller practices. (4)


Recent studies have explored the projected shortage of physicians and have highlighted an increase in demand for the services of nursing and physician assistants to compensate (PA searches are up 127% year over year, and are projected to climb through 2020¹ and nurse practitioner positions are to grow as much as 94% by the year 2025²). According to researchers at the RAND Corporation, an expansion of patient-centered medical homes and “nurse-managed” health centers  “could help eliminate 50 percent or more of the primary care physician shortage” in the U.S. by 2025.³


Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, and Physician Assistants in Physician Offices 2
“Physicians in multi-specialty group practices were most likely to have NPs, CNMs, or PAs (68.3%) compared with those in single-specialty group practices (53.8%) and solo practices (31.1%). (4)

However, there has been an increasing concern over shortages in physician assistants and nurse practitioners supply. According to HCRI president, Tim Flanagan, the issue we are facing is in the shortage of qualified NP and PA candidates, namely, “those who would be able to assume leadership and management roles in these organizations.” As it stands now, the new health law is encouraging the new models of patient-centered homes and nurse managed health centers by providing up to $50 million in direct grants. The American Academy of Physician Assistants is trying to do its part as well: 60 new physician assistant programs were waiting for accreditation as of May, and they expect 10,000 new physician assistants by 2020.

As demand increases, top healthcare recruiting firms, are winding up for increased searches from forward-looking health providers.


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1. Projecting the Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners Through 2020, Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Professions National Center for Health Workforce Analysis. November 2013. Accessed via on 5/2/2014.

2. “Will the NP workforce grow in the future? New forecasts and implications for healthcare delivery.” Med Care. 2012 Jul;50(7):606-10. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318249d6e7. Accessed on 5/21/2014 on

3.  “Nurse-Managed Health Centers And Patient-Centered Medical Homes Could Mitigate Expected Primary Care Physician Shortage” Health Affairs, November 2013 32:111933-1941

4. Image Credit: Park M, Cherry D, Decker SL. “Nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants in physician offices.” NCHS data brief, no 69. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011. Accessed on 5/21/2014

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