Tag Archives: nursing shortage

3 Medical Specialties That Need Trained Providers

Nationally, there is a practitioner shortage and healthcare needs are increasing.  Between 2014 and 2024, the need for physicians and surgeons is projected to rise 14%.  The need for physician assistants will grow 30%, and nurse practitioners will increase 31%.  Simultaneously, almost 40% of the American population (i.e. the Baby Boomer generation) is aging and increasing the demand on the current healthcare system.  Political uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act and a future replacement are beginning to drive changes within the industry.

Empty Hospital

Demand for trained medical providers has always been high, and continues to increase.  While specific demands will vary by region, here are some medical specialties that need providers in nearly every community.

Primary Care (including family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics)
Today’s healthcare system increasingly relies on the primary care provider to coordinate a patient’s care.  These providers write referrals to specialty care, and help patients navigate a complex healthcare system.  While the primary care provider role is critically important, communities in every state do not have enough providers.

According to information from the Health Professional Shortage Areas website, over 8,000 more primary care providers are needed to resolve the healthcare shortage areas in states across the country.   Some states have a greater need for primary care providers while other (smaller states) have a diminished need.  Primary care providers routinely take the first place title for the most important and sought after provider type.

Today, the demand for psychiatrists is huge.  Some experts suggest that psychiatry is the second biggest provider need behind primary care.  Other sources state that it’s the third biggest need.  Regardless, the shortage of (and demand for) trained psychiatrists is significant.

Although distressing now, the psychiatrist shortage will become more severe over the next decade. One study quoted in Forbes revealed that 60% of psychiatrists engaged in active patient care are ages 55 or older.  With many of these providers nearing retirement, needs in this field is projected to increase substantially.

Hospitalists are medical doctors who care for patients who are currently hospitalized.  They are aware of the unique aspects of a hospitalized patient’s stay, and are often more available than doctors who have other areas of practice.

With increasing demands on the healthcare system, the need for trained medical providers spans all specialties.  Although each source ranks the most in-demand roles differently, primary care providers, psychiatrists, and hospitalists are routinely needed throughout the system.

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Practitioner Shortages and Demand: a Summary

Today, some communities are already feeling the effects of the national shortage of trained medical providers. For example, in Josephine County, Oregon, there is only 1 doctor per 486 people. While most communities don’t have such dire numbers, many patients have to wait longer or travel further to get medical care. Regionally and nationally, communities and healthcare organizations are partnering together to take steps to ensure local access to care.

These six interesting facts begin to explain the complexities of provider shortages.

  • Fluctuating costs, technological advances, legislative changes, and an aging population all impact today’s healthcare system.Costs are frequently connected to advances in technology, insurance requirements, and legislative changes.As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the needs and demands placed on the healthcare system are systemically increasing.All of these factors have shaped today’s healthcare industry and impact the discussion of provider demands and shortages.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for physicians and surgeons will grow 14% percent between 2014 and 2024.
  • Between 2014 and 2024, the need for physician assistants will increase 30% and the need for nurse practitioners will grow 31%.
  • The United States Department of Health and Human Services tracks the provider shortage areas using the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) database.This database tracks provider shortages in primary care, dental care, and mental health on a scale of 0-26.Lower scores indicate fewer shortages.Higher scores indicate increased shortages.
  • Some counties in Washington rank as high as 25 out of 26 on the HPSA scales.Most communities and states need more trained healthcare providers.
  • Primary care providers are routinely needed in every area of the country. Using HPSA data, the Kaiser Family Foundation identified primary care needs by state. Delaware had the fewest primary care HPSA areas with 9.California had the most with 607 primary care HPSA areas.Washington has 155 primary care HPSA areas.

Healthcare is rapidly changing and growing. Eventually, each community will need to address the issue of practitioner shortages. While there are national trends, each region will have a unique experience based on their individual factors. Understanding the shortages is an important first step to address provider demand and how organizations can recruit trained healthcare providers. Continue reading >

Nurses Needed In These 5 Health Care Settings


Employment for these nursing roles is projected to grow much faster than average until the mid-2020s. In addition to inpatient roles, nurses can work in outpatient clinics, schools, community health centers, nursing homes, home health options, palliative care, and correctional centers.

Outpatient clinics allow nurses to work deeply in a specific specialty.  Nurses who already have (or who want to build) in-depth knowledge about medical specialty will be attracted to these roles.

Schools also need nurses to care for ill students. Job requirements will vary.  Some school nurses work full time; some work part time.  They may work in one location or rotate between neighboring schools.  In these environments, nurses will typically work with pediatric or adolescent patients.

Nursing homes offer the opportunity to work with patients who need varying levels of care.  Some patients may be long-term residents who need assistance with all of their activities of daily living.  Others may be short-term residents who are recovering from an injury or illness.  Since many patients are elderly, nurses interested in geriatric care may gravitate toward these roles.

Home health nurses travel to patient’s homes to assist them on a temporary or permanent basis. Some patients may need short-term care while recovering from an injury or acute illness.  Others may need ongoing care to help with chronic conditions or disabilities.  Since they visit patient’s homes, palliative care nurses are also considered home health nurses.

Correctional center nurses are responsible for intake screenings and medical care for inmates.  Within correctional centers, nurses see patients who have acute and chronic medical conditions.  Due to the close proximity of inmates, outbreaks of disease are common.  On a daily basis, nurses may also be responsible for administering medications as needed.  Care coordination between providers is another part of the nursing role, particularly when someone is being released.

Nurses fill a range of roles in any setting.  Inpatient nurses help patients who are currently admitted to the hospital.  Outpatient nurses get to work in-depth within a particular medical specialty.  School nurses typically work with pediatric populations in one or more locations.  Nursing home nurses care for patients who need varying levels of assistance.  Home health nurses visit patients in their homes on a temporary or ongoing basis.  Correctional center nurses care for incarcerated patients and help coordinate their care. Each setting offers a different set of challenges for nurses to conquer as they care for specific patient populations.

Correctional Facility Nursing. Minority Nurse, 7 February 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-be-a-doctor-in-prison-2013-3. Accessed January 31, 2017.
Giang, Vivian. Jailhouse Doctor Shares What It’s Like To Care For The Most Dangerous People In the World. Business Insider, 20 March 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-be-a-doctor-in-prison-2013-3. Accessed January 31, 2017.
Registered Nurses. United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 17 December 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm. Accessed January 31, 2017.

New Grad RNs Looking For That First Job

We’ve all heard the angst from a new grad RN who hasn’t been able to land that first job. Clearly today’s reality doesn’t reflect the RN shortage that’s right around the corner. I don’t want them to find another career – I need them around in 10 years caring for me!

So what can we say besides some encouraging words? The first two options are the most popular, but I don’t hear much about the third.

  1. Return to school for your ARNP. Yes, they’re tired of school and already have loans to repay. But NPs are part of the solution to the Physician shortages, and they’ll be keeping those hospital skills current while waiting for more RNs to retire.
  2. Suggest they broaden their perspective to include non-hospital positions. Anything in patient care is a good beginning. Starting in long term care, assisted living and home health doesn’t mean you have to retire there. And staffing agencies are often a good vehicle for finding non-traditional positions.
  3. Volunteer! Care for the homeless, community clinics, community health centers, Doctors Without Borders, literally anywhere you can provide health care to individuals. It’s good on your resume and good in an interview. And you’ll undoubtedly come in contact with  healthcare professionals who can recommend you at their organizations. Getting that ‘friends and family’ recommendation is often the key to getting your resume into the interview pile.