Health Reform – Workforce Issues

Written by on October 31, 2014 in Insight - No comments

PA-NPWEBPhysician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are skilled medical professionals who play an integral part in health care delivery. Especially in primary care, PAs and NPs attract and manage a significant following of patients.  Often, the addition of a PA/NP to a medical practice offers enhanced patient satisfaction, improved physician work-life balance, improved revenues and greater access to care for patients.

Redesigning teams to include increased numbers of primary care providers, not just physicians but also Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs), is a significant part of the solution to alleviate the well-known shortage in primary care under new health care reform. Improving utilization of Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) will be an integral part of the primary care delivery solution.

A recent USA Today article highlights the PA profession to grow at least 5% by 2017. As more baby boomers age, both PAs and NPs will be in demand with projected median wages of about $44 per hour, and expected increases in those wages due to demand of at least 14% by 2017.

PAs and NPs are estimated to do about 85% of the work a physician would otherwise provide in the primary care setting.  Nationwide, hospitals and health systems are moving toward using more PAs and NPs and there is a much greater emphasis on team based care.

Growing concerns about physician shortages are increasing reliance on PAs and NPs to fill the gap.  Increasing capacity of the health system to meet the growing numbers of patients seeking care is critical and necessary. Expansions in scope of practice for both professions are recently evident in several states including NY and KY.   It is estimated that teams of PAs and NPs working with physicians in the primary care setting may extend capacity enough such that there is not a shortage at all.


About the Author:
Lisa P. Shock, MHS, PA-C, is a seasoned PA who has worked with clients to expand care teams in both large and small settings. She enjoys part time clinical practice and is the President and CEO of Utilization Solutions in Healthcare – a specialty consultant company for physician practices and hospitals, offering a wide range of services to help implement and improve upon the utilization of PAs and NPs in the health care system. Contact her at

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