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Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are hot healthcare jobs

BY: Elise Oberliesen on April 3, 2019

Healthcare trends come and go as do good and bad jobs.

nurse practitionersWhen you look at top jobs across the United States, according to Investopedia they fall in the three industries in the order below:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Technology
  3. Construction

As the No. 1 booming industry, healthcare jobs are expected to grow 18% until the year 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job growth and salary are key predictors when it comes to which jobs top the hot jobs list, according to experts. It takes a healthy dose of data collection and analysis to see which jobs make the cut — something U.S. News and World Report has turned into a science.

According to the 100 Best Jobs list published by U.S. News and World Report, physician assistant (PA) landed the No. 3 spot, while nurse practitioner (NP) landed at No. 7.

We decided to delve into both jobs to see what makes these two so special.

A recruiter’s take on the two sizzlers — NPs and PAs

Anne Folger is senior director of physician and provider recruitment with Banner Health at the Phoenix corporate office. Her division places candidates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.

She oversees recruiting efforts for physicians and advanced practice providers, which includes nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and midwives.

The well-documented physician shortage is driving the need to hire more nurse practitioners and physician assistants to fill the gap, Folger said. To compound the issue, an aging population largely drives the need for physicians to provide care for people who are living longer.

“Our hiring of advanced practice providers has been low, [in past years] but it is growing significantly as the physician’s shortage has arrived at our doorstep,” she said. “In 2018, we hired 438 physicians, and 242 advanced practice providers. The majority of advanced practice provider hires were NPs.”

Current projections suggest a physician shortage between 42,600 and 121,300 by the year 2030, according to a 2018 study conducted by IHS, Inc., for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

When physician assistants come in with a specialty background it automatically places them in greater demand, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges report that suggests “specialty shortages will be particularly large.”

“Now when we recruit for PAs, we see them coming from specialty backgrounds in surgery specialties, general surgery, neurosurgery and orthopedic,” Folger said.

As more physician assistants and nurse practitioners are placed into the hospital setting, Folger said it will be critical that healthcare facilities recognize these individuals for their full potential and enduring skill set.

Part of that includes learning how to create a welcoming environment where physicians share responsibilities with advanced practice providers. A culture shift may be in order.

“If you’re a recruiter, you need to make sure your organization can embrace advanced practice providers, whether it’s NPs or PAs, and that your physicians will fully engage them in the practice,” she said.

In the past, physicians did not always know how to work with nurse practitioners, said Folger. One of the big game changers will be learning how to integrate physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants into the clinical model.

It will require organizations to recognize how to put advanced practice providers into challenging roles where their talent is put to full use “at the top of their license,” she added.

Facts about physician assistants

Physician assistant jobs are in demand with expected job growth  projected at 37% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average salary: About $104,000 per year based on 2017 data
Education: Master’s degree
Setting: Majority work in a primary care practice (56%) followed by hospitals (23%)

Top cities to be a physician assistant, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, include:

  1. Hartford, Conn.
  2. Durham, NC
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Raleigh, NC
  5. Charlotte, NC
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Riverside, Calif.
  8. Baltimore
  9. Orlando, Fla.
  10. New York City

Facts about nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioner falls under the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) category, which includes midwives and nurse anesthetists. APRN jobs are in demand with expected job growth projected at 31% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average salary: $110,000 based on 2017 data
Education: Master’s degree
Setting: Majority work in physician’s offices (46%) followed by hospitals (28%)

The following states pay nurse practitioners the most, according to a 2018 report from Becker’s Hospital Review. Keep in mind cost of living differs by location.

  1. California — hourly $60.95, annually $126,770
  2. Alaska — hourly $60.16, annually $125,140
  3. Hawaii — hourly $58.93, annually $122,580
  4. Massachusetts — hourly $57.76, annually $120,140
  5. Connecticut — hourly $56.97, annually $118,500
  6. New Jersey — hourly $56.55, annually $117,630
  7. New York — hourly $56.35, annually $117,210
  8. Minnesota — hourly $55.84, annually $116,150
  9. Washington — hourly $55.41, annually $115,250
  10. Wyoming — hourly $54.48, annually $113,310

Need to hire nurse practitioners or physician assistants? We can help.

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Elise Oberliesen

Elise Oberliesen has 15 years of combined media and marketing experience. Her work appears on corporate blogs and publications, such as the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and AARP. Her specialties include healthcare, high tech and finance. Elise is a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists and founder of Big Mountain Media.