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Shortage of Doctors Leads to Quickly Rising Wages for Nurse Practitioners

Topics: Career Profiles
Nurse Practitioner
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Nurse Practitioners are cashing in on a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians, seeing their wages rise 30 percent over five years.

Just what the doctor ordered. Primary care physicians saw their compensation rise, on average, 10 percent over the past five years, largely because of a worsening shortage of these doctors nationwide and increased competition among practices vying for their services. By way of comparison, specialty physician’s compensation rose by only about 5 percent over the same time period.

But it’s Nurse Practitioners (NPs) who are really benefiting from the shortage of doctors; NPs saw their salaries rise, on average, 30 percent since 2013.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

According to Healthcare Finance, “Chief among reasons for the primary care physician shortage is an aging population, which is outpacing the supply of the chronic care they need. Physicians themselves are aging, also, which further compounds the problem.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Also reported by Healthcare Finance, “according to Janis Orlowski, chief healthcare officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be a shortage of 45,000 to 105,000 physicians within the next several years.”

It’s Nurse Practitioners who are filling the gaps.

Nurse Practitioners are more qualified and have more education than registered nurses (RNs), and can handle more than 80 percent of the primary care tasks usually provided by doctors, including diagnosing patients, ordering tests, prescribing drugs, stitching wounds, and other tasks traditionally associated with primary care physicians. Several studies have found NPs and doctors provide equivalent levels of care.

Additionally, multiple studies have shown higher patient satisfaction when primary care is provided by NPs instead of doctors.

Healthy Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 203,000 NPs in the US in 2016, and that number is expected to grow by 31 percent to nearly 270,000 by 2026. (The BLS notes that this level of growth is “much faster than average”.)

PayScale data shows that the average Nurse Practitioner in the United States can expect to take home roughly $91,000 per year in salary. That number can change based on location, experience and other factors.

In fact, Nurse Practitioner came in at number eight on a recent list of America’s highest-paying jobs, one spot below computer and information systems managers, and one spot above Spot’s doctors, veterinarians.


What do you think about Nurse Practitioners rising salaries as a result of the shortage of doctors? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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