Thursday, May 15, 2014

Government Report Shows Increase of Nurse Practitioners in Primary Care

After declining for two decades, the rate of recently licensed nurse practitioners (NPs) joining the primary care workforce is moving upward, according to a new report from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

According to the National Sample Survey of Nurse Practitioners, in 1992, 59 percent of graduating NPs worked in primary care, but that decreased to 42 percent between 2003 and 2007. The new survey, based on 2012 data, shows that 47 percent NPs who graduated since 2008 have entered primary care, Nurse Zone reports. Survey results also showed:
  • 94 percent of that total NP workforce held a graduate degree in some field, 86 percent had a master’s degree in nursing, and 5 percent held a doctoral degree in nursing;
  • 76 percent of the NP workforce maintained certification in a primary care specialty (family, adult, pediatric, or gerontology); and
  • More than half of the NP workforce worked in ambulatory care settings, with nearly a third practicing in hospitals.
Two recent studies funded by INQRI found significant benefits of NPs working in primary care. The first, led by Joanne Spetz at the University of California, San Francisco, found that increasing use of retail clinics in which nurse practitioners provide primary care and practice independently, can dramatically reduce health care costs, as much as $810 million in 2015, if those clinics account for 10 percent of outpatient primary care visits.

The other, led by David Auerbach of RAND and funded in part by the Donaghue Foundation, found that increasing the number of and the use of models of health care delivery that rely on nurse practitioners or physician assistants as primary care providers could offset the expected primary care physician shortage in 2025.

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