Nurse practitioners may already be maxed out

Despite the controversy over nurse practitioners' scope of practice, the healthcare industry largely views them as key players in helping to meet Americans' unprecedented demand for primary care services amid physician shortages.

As primary care physician and medical journalist Celine Gounder, M.D., wrote in the New Yorker last week, she's not worried about losing work to less highly paid nonphysicians because there is more than enough work to go around.

There might even be too much work ahead for NPs to pick up the slack, according to a survey from Staff Care, the staffing arm the physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins. Out of the 222 NPs surveyed at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners annual meeting, 81 percent said they are either overextended or are at full capacity, meaning they don't have time to see more patients or take on more duties.

Indeed, a previous survey from Merritt Hawkins found NPs and physician assistants were among the top 20 recruited specialties for the first time in the survey's 20-year history.

On a positive note, however, it seems that currently practicing NPs are making the most of being on top, with 99 percent reporting that they are optimistic about the future of their profession. Further, the Staff Care survey found that 96 percent said they would choose to be an NP again and 97 percent would recommend the career to others.

Dallas Business Journal blogger Bill Hethcock pointed out, however, that the less satisfied NPs may have skipped the meeting at which the survey was conducted. Nonetheless, these numbers are in stark contrast to a recent Physicians Practice survey suggesting that 40 percent of doctors would choose a different profession if they had the choice to make over.

To learn more:
- see the post from the Dallas Business Journal
- read the survey from Staff Care
- check out the post from the New Yorker