For years, the demand for medical staff has been biased towards primary care doctors, like physicians and internists. But recently, nurse practitioners and physician assistants have been climbing the ranks, getting past many doctor specialists in terms of demand.
A recent review by Merrit Hawkins shows that neither of the two positions had been among the top 20 most desired health professions in 2011. A more recent review shows that primary care doctors are still the most in-demand health professionals, followed by internists and psychiatrists – in that order, but nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are now placed among the top 10. In fact, NPs and PAs ranked fourth on Merrit Hawkins’ list.
On their own, the report indicated that nurse practitioners ranked fifth after hospitalists, who were forth, while physician assistants took the tenth spot on the list, tied with general surgeons.
The report also indicated that advanced practitioners are in greater demand than a variety of specialties, including cardiology, neurology, urology, and general surgery.
So, the most in-demand healthcare specialties according to the 2015 Merrit Hawkins report, from a database of over 3,100 recruiting assignments conducted between April 2014 and March 2015 are:
1. Family Medicine – from 734 searches
2. Internal Medicine – from 237 searches
3. Psychiatry – from 230 searches
4. Hospitalist – from 176 searches
5. Nurse Practitioner – from 143 searches
6. OB/GYN – from 112 searches
7. Orthopedic Surgery – from 106 searches
8. Emergency Medicine – from 80 searches
9. Pediatrics – from 71 searches
10. General Surgery – from 63 searches
11. Physician Assistant – from 63 searches
Factors Pushing the Increase in Demand
All health systems require medical professionals at all levels, but recent data shows that nurse practitioners are more in demand than most physicians. Nurse practitioners are filling a vital role for the health care industry, especially with the recent emphasis on outpatient care, as trends in insurance payment from employers, private health plans, and the government (via the Affordable Care Act) seek to keep people well.
Nurses are needed to establish patient access and patient satisfaction. In fact, insurance companies have decided to include quality of care and patient satisfaction into the contracts they have with medical care providers. At the same time, health plans like Anthem (ANTM), Aetna AET (AET), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Blue Shield, and Blue Cross plans have consolidated into larger players and modified their payments to value-based care.
The increase in demand for nurse practitioners can also be attributed to the fact that more and more grocers and retailers are opening clinics in their stores.