Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)
Although APPs may be referred to by different names – advanced practice providers, advanced practice professionals, or advanced practitioners, there’s no doubt they are critical to the future of healthcare.
This rapidly growing and extremely valuable group of health professionals includes:
- Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN)
- Nurse practitioners (NP)
- Physician assistants (PA)
- Certified nurse midwives (CNM)
- Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA)
They are educated, they are passionate, and they are essential.
The Conundrum of Care, Compounded by COVID
Healthcare challenges continue to grow, and existing problems are exacerbated by COVID. The list is long, but here are a few:
- A growing population of seniors, many of whom have chronic conditions
- A contingent of physicians who are reaching retirement
- Providers who are leaving the field due to burnout or other personal reasons
- A scarcity of doctors in rural areas and other underserved regions
- Healthcare professionals who have recently become ill, quarantined, or otherwise impacted by COVID-19
A Look at the Numbers
Within the next decade…
The predicted physician shortage is expected to fall roughly between 47,000 and 122,000 (AAMC).
The number of nurse practitioners in the U.S. is expected to grow by 26% and
The number of physician assistants is expected to grow by 31% (BLS).
This means we should have nearly half a million advanced practice providers within the next ten years.
Advanced practice providers are clearly a key component of the solution.
Why Advanced Practice Providers Are Increasingly Valuable
Indeed, an advanced practice provider is not the equivalent of a physician. There are countless situations in which a medical doctor’s training and experience are unparalleled and irreplaceable. However, considering the stringent expectations, advanced clinical training, increasing autonomy, and growing numbers of APPs in the field, health leaders should consider these professionals as a valuable solution.
- They are highly educated, trained, and qualified. Advanced practice providers’ educational requirements are becoming more strenuous. They hold bachelor's, master’s, or doctoral degrees. By the time they are certified, they will have had rigorous training, and they will have numerous clinical hours under their belts.
- Their scope is expanding. More and more states are granting APPs full practice authority. Currently, in 22 states plus Washington, D.C., nurse practitioners have autonomy. Other states may soon follow, as the National Academy of Medicine and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing push for full practice authority in primary care.
- State licensure is becoming more flexible. The Nurse Licensure Compact(NLC) now includes most states in the U.S. It allows for increased access to care while protecting patients at the state level. Further, APPs have even greater increased access to interstate licensure due to coronavirus.
- APPs are in demand. There has been a massive effort by universities and colleges to promote advanced practice provider programs. Further, health organizations are seeking these providers, and healthcare talent agencies are recruiting their services.
- Many professionals are choosing to become APPs instead of physicians. The appeal of life as an APP has drawn many professionals away from pursuing a career as a physician. Advanced practice professionals can enjoy the benefits of clinical practice with less schooling, lower college debt, reduced stress, and better hours. While they do forfeit that highly desirable doctor salary, pay for APPs is on the rise, and it is a well-compensated field.
- APPs come in all shapes and sizes. Advanced practice providers can offer general, comprehensive care, or highly specialized services. In fact, there are even sub-subspecialties in specific fields. There is bound to be the right APP fit for any healthcare organization.
- They are techy. Many younger APPs are digital natives, while others have picked up technological skills along the way. Most are adept at learning electronic health records systems quickly. Further, as a result of coronavirus, many are transitioning to virtual health services.
- They add value. Patients often find that advanced practitioners have more time to provide undivided attention so they may improve the overall patient experience. Adding APPs to staff may also improve throughput and streamline services. They are much more affordable than physicians so they can enhance a facility’s bottom line.
Advanced Practice Provider Locum Support
As health leaders face mounting pressures due to COVID-19, advanced practice professionals can help ease the burden. Reinforcing your team with advanced practitioners, especially with locum tenens APPs, is an effective and efficient strategy for the future.