December 4, 2023

NPs are transforming the healthcare landscape amid physician shortages

Editor's Note

The number of nurse practitioners (NPs) in the US has surged to 385,000, according to a November 14 Becker's Clinical Leadership article. As a result, the profession seems to be gaining prominence in healthcare amid an anticipated shortage of 100,000 physicians, Becker's Hospital Review December 4 reports.

Research out of Harvard Medical School shows that 25% of US health visits are conducted by non-physicians. While NPs and physicians share some training similarities, the debate arises when NPs, often with doctoral-level education, consider using the title "Dr." While this could lead to advocacy and legal issues, within hospitals, the changing landscape of healthcare roles is seen as beneficial to reshaping workplace dynamics.

Here are some key takeaways, according to Becker's:

  • Within hospitals, this trend may be beneficial toward reshaping workplace dynamics, moving away from traditional hierarchies.
  • The discussion around title will often arise due to patient education; the focus, however, is on providing clarity about healthcare roles.
  • Research suggests that patients treated by NPs experience fewer unnecessary hospital readmissions and improved satisfaction.
  • NPs are more likely to practice in rural and smaller community settings, filling gaps in care access.

"The impact of more NPs in the workforce, in leadership and in C-suite positions, and the broader inclusion of NPs and other providers from multiple healthcare disciplines as voting members on hospital and health system boards, has moved us closer to our goals," Stephen Ferrara, DNP, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, told Becker's. "Healthcare improves when we're all at the table while working at the top of our education and clinical preparation." 


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