The Trouble with Nurse Practitioners

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media , March 18, 2013

As hospitals and health systems prepare for the additional 38 million newly insured patients that will soon flood waiting rooms, they're aggressively hiring mid-level providers, such as nurse practitioners, to fill in access to care disparities. But that's not the only reason advanced practice registered nurses are highly desirable.

Studies have shown that hiring nurse practitioners helps healthcare organizations improve safety and quality, patient flow, physician productivity, as well as the continuity of care and patient experience. Despite all of the benefits associated with hiring nurse practitioners, however, major obstacles stand in the way of incorporating nurse practitioners into team-based medicine.

1. There aren't enough of them

In 2010 the population of APRNs was 125,000, with at least 66% practicing primary care—a population that is growing at 2.4% compared to 1.4% growth rate of primary care physicians, according to a 2010 report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. But the pace is not keeping up with demand.

"We're seeing an estimated 200% increase in the demand for advanced practice nursing positions, which includes nurse practitioners in various specialties, as well as physician assistants," says Melissa Knybel, RN, BSN, Director of Operations at Randstad Healthcare.

"These are employers of various types, both from an outpatient clinic type of setting to the acute care setting. Our increase in demand is coming in large part from our acute care hospitals where before, traditionally it has been in the outpatient setting."

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2 comments on "The Trouble with Nurse Practitioners"

MBRose (3/27/2013 at 3:50 PM)
Perhaps it is time for physicians to finally accept that nursing is not only a valuable profession, but one that can provide high quality health care in all settings, and become our colleagues and not our overseers. Nurses have been socialized to revere MDs; however, MDs have not educated or socialized to value what nurses bring to the health care table. Time for things to change if this country is ever going to get health care back to top quality for a reasonable cost. Time for nurses to step up and speak up regarding the care provided and advocating for clients we serve in all aspects of healthcare.

Bob Lowry, PA-C (3/27/2013 at 9:26 AM)
Perhaps Ms. Rice should have included Physician Assistants in this article to give it a broader view. PAs can help fill this provider shortage. PAs work under the supervision of physicians and stress the team concept of complete patient care. More info about PAs can be found at




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