Recent nurse practitioner graduates are choosing primary care jobs at higher rate than their predecessors, according to a report published by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The agency surveyed nearly 13,000 NPs and published its findings in a report called, “Highlights From the 2012 National Sample Survey of Nurse Practitioners”. According to the report, 59% of NPs who graduated in 1992 or earlier work in primary care, but only 42% of NPs who graduated in 2003 to 2007 work primary care jobs. However, the percentage of NPs working in primary care jumps five points to 47% among NPs who graduated in 2008 or later.
We are encouraged by the national growth of primary care nurse practitioners, and HRSA is committed to continuing this trend to ensure an adequate supply and distribution of nurses for years to come,” said HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., at a meeting with major nursing groups in observance of National Nurses Week. The increased interest in primary care comes at a good time. The United States is experiencing a shortage of primary care physicians and many healthcare experts expect nurse practitioners to help provide primary care services to the millions of newly insured Americans who gained healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The extent to which NPs can alleviate the physician shortage depends on each state’s scope of practice laws.
Currently, 19 states and Washington DC allow NPs to practice independently from physicians, giving patients direct access to primary services from NPs. Other states require NPs to have a collaborative or supervisory relationship with a physician. Many state lawmakers are beginning to see the value in allowing NPs to practice independently and are changing their laws. For example, New York will grant full practice authority to NPs starting January 1, 2015. Other states, such as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, are considering changing their laws as well.
This is all good news for the NP job market, which is expected to grow 31% between 2012 and 2022. It’s a great time to be an NP!