Physician Shortage, Reform Lead to New Staffing Roles

July 28, 2012

Three healthcare jobs are seeing increased recruitment thanks to a lack of physicians and the Affordable Care Act.

As medical practices gear up for an influx of patients due to the Affordable Care Act and as the physician shortage intensifies, new roles are emerging at physicians’ practices.

“A lot of places are starting to backfill or hire nurse practitioners [NPs] and physician assistants [PAs] as an alternative to not being able to fill their physician-level positions,” Tricia Pattee, director of product management at HEALTHeCAREERS Network, told Physicians Practice

This trend is reflected in the latest job report released by the healthcare jobs network. While physicians continue to be the most sought after healthcare professionals, more and more employers are recruiting PAs, NPs, and health IT professionals.

In fact, the number of physician job openings posted in the second quarter of the year remained relatively flat compared to the first quarter, according to the report; while the number of NP job openings posted increased 16 percent, and the number of PA job openings posted increased 10 percent.

Practices are recognizing that when physician supply is low and patient demand is high nonphysician providers can help fill in the gaps, said Pattee. “It does take a lot of the work load off of [physicians], particularly if they are understaffed or if they have too many patients that they’re handling at one time.”

Pattee predicted that scope of practice among NPs and PAs will also expand in the coming years as practices and physicians begin to accept them more and rely on them more.

Another big change is that PAs and NPs will take on more roles outside of traditional primary-care settings, she said. “We’ve seen them become more specialized in the recent years so that they can be more hirable and more appealing to physicians that are practicing within a specialty.”

But PAs and NPs aren’t the only healthcare professionals seeing growth due to healthcare reform and the physician shortage. Many facilities attempting to become more efficient when it comes to dealing with patients and administrative responsibilities recognize that health IT professionals are valuable resources, said Pattee.

Overall, the report found that job openings posted for healthcare IT professionals increased 18 percent between the first and second quarter of this year.

“I think that that [hiring of healthIT professions] is going to become another major area of focus as we see the changes start to take place with the healthcare reform,” she said.

So where are all the healthcare jobs located? Texas, Florida, and California are the three states with the most healthcare job postings in the first and second quarter of this year.

What role do you think nonphysician providers will have/should have in supplementing the physician shortage?