The Dynamic Duo: How NPs and PAs Can Bridge the Physician Shortage Gap

By: curativetalent

Hospitals around the world are facing a concerning issue: a shortage of physicians. Without a sufficient physician workforce, hospitals may struggle to meet the needs of patients, resulting in potential delays in care, reduced access, and increased strain on the healthcare system.

Fortunately, Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants offer a promising solution to address the physician shortage. While there continues to be a decrease in the amount of physicians available, the number of NPs and PAs continues to increase—NPs will be the fastest-growing occupation in the U.S. over the next decade, and the number of PAs is projected to grow by 28% from 2021 to 2031. These statistics demonstrate the increasing prominence of NPs and PAs as crucial components of the healthcare workforce. By harnessing their skills and expertise, hospitals can tap into a valuable resource pool that can help alleviate the strain caused by physician shortages. 

From added flexibility to cost-effective staffing options, NPs and PAs bring a wealth of benefits that can enhance patient care, optimize resource allocation, and create a sustainable healthcare environment. Let's delve deeper into the valuable contributions of NPs and PAs in combating physician shortages and ensuring high-quality care for patients.

Added Flexibility

One of the key benefits of incorporating NPs and PAs into healthcare organizations is the added flexibility they provide. While NPs and PAs may have fewer years of training than doctors, they are qualified and licensed to assume many clinical responsibilities including: conducting physical examinations, reviewing patient histories, and treating a wide range of common illnesses and injuries. This allows physicians to focus their expertise on complex cases, urgent situations, or specialized consultations, without compromising patient care. 

For instance, a patient visits the clinic with symptoms of a common respiratory infection. Instead of having to wait for a physician's appointment, the patient can be seen promptly by an NP or PA who is qualified to diagnose and treat such conditions. This immediate access to care not only improves patient satisfaction but also ensures timely treatment and prevents the condition from worsening.

Ultimately, hiring NPs and PAs allows your organization to fill in the gaps where needed, significantly improves patient access, reduces waiting times, and increases patient satisfaction.

Prescription Authority

A majority of states grant NPs and PAs prescription authority, enabling them to prescribe medications to patients and play a crucial role in mediation management. This authority not only enhances patient care but also ensures seamless collaboration with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. 

Instead of solely relying on physicians to handle the routine medication prescriptions and adjustments, an NP or PA with prescription authority can assess the patient, evaluate their current medication regimen, and provide safe and appropriate modifications based on evidence-based guidelines. This allows the patient to receive timely adjustments to their treatment plan without the need for prolonged waiting times or unnecessary physician visits.

By leveraging their prescription authority, NPs and PAs contribute to effective healthcare delivery within hospitals and minimize physician interaction in times of staffing shortages.

Extended Physician Care

NPs and PAs can effectively extend physician care by treating patients with non-critical conditions, chronic diseases, or minor injuries, which make up 70-80% percent of a physician’s workload. By delegating such cases to NPs and PAs, physicians can focus their expertise on more critical cases.

For instance, a patient with a stable chronic condition, such as hypertension, requires ongoing care and monitoring. NPs and PAs can effectively provide routine check-ups, medication management, lifestyle counseling, and education to better manage their condition. This extended care allows physicians to dedicate their expertise to complex cases or specialized procedures, knowing that the patient's ongoing needs are being addressed by NPs and PAs.

NPs and PAs play an invaluable role in extending physician care and optimizing healthcare resources within hospitals.

Ability to Practice in Different Specialties

The versatility of NPs and PAs is a significant asset to hospitals facing physician shortages. While the PA and NP professions initially focused on general medicine, both have evolved to encompass a wide range of specialties. This adaptability allows NPs and PAs to contribute effectively in various healthcare settings and specialties, making them valuable resources for hospitals.

PAs, in particular, possess a flexible training model that enables them to switch between specialties relatively easily. Similarly, many NPs pursue additional certifications in multiple specialties, enabling them to provide specialized care across various disciplines. This versatility makes NPs and PAs valuable team members who can be allocated to different departments and fill specialty-specific gaps in physician coverage.

Incorporating NPs and PAs with specialized training and expertise in specific areas allows hospitals to provide specialized care without solely relying on physicians. 

Patient Satisfaction

Research consistently demonstrates high patient satisfaction with NPs and PAs. Patients respond positively to the care provided by advanced practice providers, appreciating their focus on patient education, counseling, and holistic approaches to healthcare. By integrating NPs and PAs, hospitals can enhance patient experiences and achieve better patient outcomes.

NPs and PAs often spend more time with patients, allowing for comprehensive assessments, effective communication, and patient-centered care. They prioritize building strong patient-provider relationships, actively involving patients in decision-making, and providing thorough explanations about their conditions and treatment plans. Additionally, NPs and PAs excel in patient education and counseling. They take the time to explain medical concepts, discuss treatment options, and address any concerns or questions patients may have. 

Patients appreciate the personalized attention, continuity of care, and the focus on preventive and holistic approaches that NPs and PAs offer.

Cost-Effective Staffing

Amidst rising healthcare costs, NPs and PAs offer a cost-effective staffing option for hospitals. While salaries for NPs and PAs may vary depending on experience and geographical location, they generally remain more affordable than the average compensation for physicians. This cost-effectiveness makes NPs and PAs valuable assets in addressing staffing challenges while maintaining quality patient care.

Additionally, the cost advantage of employing NPs and PAs also encompasses the potential for increased patient throughput, streamlined workflows, and optimized resource allocation. By leveraging the skills and expertise of NPs and PAs, hospitals can effectively address physician shortages and meet patient demand without compromising on the quality of care.

NPs and PAs can also play a significant role in reducing healthcare costs through their focus on preventive care and chronic disease management. Their emphasis on patient education, lifestyle modifications, and early intervention can help prevent the progression of chronic diseases and reduce the need for costly interventions or hospitalizations.

NPs and PAs provide valuable healthcare services at a lower cost, ensuring that healthcare organizations can effectively address staffing challenges, optimize resource allocation, and deliver quality care within budgetary constraints.

Alleviating Staffing Challenges with Locum Tenens NPs and PAs

Hospitals can explore the option of utilizing locum tenens NPs and PAs to address immediate staffing needs and evaluate their contributions to care coverage. Locum tenens assignments offer flexibility and provide an opportunity to assess the value of NPs.

By partnering with Curative as your locum tenens providers, you can access qualified locums NPs and PAs for short-term coverage or longer-term arrangements. Our flexible staffing solution allows hospitals to evaluate the impact of advanced practice providers on care coverage without the commitment of permanent employment.

Learn more about how Curative can help you address your staffing needs. Simply email, or fill out the form below.


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