Nurse practitioners are gaining in both responsibility and numbers in the urgent care industry (as are physician assistants). The appeal is that it costs less to employ the average NP than it does the average physician, with no loss in prescribing authority. Employing advanced practice providers (APPs) in general allows an urgent care operator to handle more patients efficiently without adding dramatically to payroll. According to research published recently in the journal Health Affairs, the number of NPs in the U.S. (not just limited to urgent care) more than doubled, from 91,000 to 190,000 between 2010 and 2017. At the same time, however, as pointed out in a new article from Forbes, the number of registered nurses has fallen by 80,000. Given that RNs are able to support patient flow and handle many tasks less expensively than an APP, this could prove to be both a staffing and financial challenge for urgent care operators. So, if you have RNs on staff that you’re happy with, try to hold on to them. Make sure they’re equally happy working in your office. JUCM published an article that might offer good advice on how to do that. You can read Becoming the Employer of Choice for the Emerging Urgent Care Workforce in our archive.
The Trend Toward Hiring NPs May Have Unintended Consequences