Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) are a dynamic force in healthcare and they’re filling a critical role by filling patient care and staffing gaps linked to the country’s physician shortage. In fact, it was reported in a 2019 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives from Merritt Hawkins that while Primary Care physicians are the #1 target for recruiting, NPs and PAa are target #1A.
The number of practicing Advanced Practitioners is growing right along with demand. Licensed NPs set a record in the U.S. last year surpassing 270,000 (per the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), while the PA profession grew 32.5% over five years, reaching 131,152 certified PAs at the end of 2018 (per the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants or NCCPA).
One new and significant challenge for recruiters is that many NPs and PAs are choosing to specialize, making it harder to find clinicians to fill primary care roles. The percentage of PAs working in surgical subspecialties has increased over 70 percent since 2013. Other specialties with high growth include emergency medicine and hospital medicine (per previously cited report from NCCPA).
NPs and PAs are an integral part of team-based care and work in concert with doctors and other staff members to improve quality and efficiency and to lower costs of care. PAs remain under physician supervision but NPs can now practice independently of physicians in over 20 states and the District of Columbia, while PAs have prescriptive authority in all 50 states (per the AANP). Merritt Hawkins reports that NPs and PAs are sometimes handling 80% or more of the duties primary care physicians typically perform. Further, NPs and PAs provide the bulk of care at the growing number of urgent care centers and have also been a fixture at federal health centers.
The need for NPs and PAs in locum tenens is intensifying
Healthcare facilities typically use locum tenens to fill in until permanent staff can be found or to address staff turnover, so the ability to fill in for physicians in a variety of facilities makes NPs and PAs more valuable than ever. They can often relieve doctors of administrative and other responsibilities, and it’s a cost-effective option to supplement physician care because they perform many of the same duties, but their salaries are lower. Patients also recognize the value of care they receive from NPs and PAs.
That’s why demand for these providers is growing in the locum space. Since 2012, the number of healthcare facility managers who reported they use locum tenens NPs and PAs has doubled – up from 12.4 percent to 26 percent (per Staff Care’s Temporary Staffing Trends).
Why locum tenens work is appealing for NPs and PAs
Locum tenens is great option for NPs and PAs for a variety of reasons. Some like to work in different clinical settings to add to their skill set, and others really enjoy the travel. Most love flexibility and freedom of locum tenens: they can choose where and when they work and they like working as an independent contractor. NPs and PAs are frequently known to pick up extra locum shifts when they’re off work from their regular jobs to earn extra cash. While pay varies based on the location and facility, locum NPs and PAs also often make more than their staff counterparts. Locum tenens APPs can expect hourly rates that are 33 to 50 percent higher than the average full-time position.
Are you recruiting NPs and PAs for full-time or locum tenens opportunities? Using Doximity Talent Finder, recruiters can narrow their search by NP and PA locum tenens candidates on our network. We invite you to learn more about recruiting for locum tenens candidates in our new Recruiters Guide to Recruiting Locum Tenens.