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NPs Have Incredibly High Levels of Job Satisfaction, Survey Says

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We’ve written often about the ongoing conflict between physician extenders and physicians over the expanded authority of NPs and PAs. But let’s take a break from that discussion to get a sense as to how physician extenders view their jobs.

A survey conducted by temporary physician and NP staffing firm Staff Care found that 100 percent of the 222 NPs in attendance at June’s the American Association of Nurse Practitioners annual meeting in Las Vegas “are upbeat about their profession. The survey also found that 99 percent of NPs are optimistic about their future, 97 percent would recommend becoming an NP to their children, and 96 percent are optimistic about the future of their profession,” reports John Commins for HealthLeaders Media.

Staff Care Vice President of Communications Phillip Miller admitted this was “not a scientific survey, but it is more of a weathervane indicator of where things are going. The reason we think it is somewhat significant is that the response to the questions was overwhelming… And unlike physicians and even nurses we have surveyed, we have never seen satisfaction rates as high. We usually get 10 percent–15 percent of the people who have something to grumble about or something that didn't meet their expectations or who have regrets. We got almost none of that this time.”

Why do nurse practitioners have so much to be happy about? For one thing, their field is broadening, Miller said, as more states are jumping on board with expanded autonomy for physician extenders. “There is a sense of confidence that their income and prestige are going to increase.”

“When asked what they plan to do in the next three years, 63 percent of NPs said they will continue in their practice,” Commins reports. “However, 10 percent said they would work independently, 10 percent said they would work in temporary practice, and 12 percent said they would work part-time.”

With a daily patient volume of 17 and an average salary of $95,800, NPs seem to have the medical world by the proverbial string, while, Commins observes, most physicians are highly dissatisfied with their jobs. “A recent national survey of physicians…found that 32 percent of respondents said they feel positively about their profession, 13 percent said they are optimistic about the future of medicine, and 42 percent would recommend medicine as a career to their children or other young people.”

“Doctors feel like their clinical autonomy is being eroded and that reimbursements are being cut, and in a lot of cases they are,” Miller said. “Before they were preeminent on the healthcare team and now it's more like they are part of the team and not the dominant player.”

He added that registered nurses are experience similar frustrations, with more physically demanding jobs and poorer incomes than NPs. Most of their work is “grunt work” compared to the nurturing, patient-centered care providing by NPs.

Of course, if job satisfaction among NPs is truly this high, then that means dissatisfaction is right around the corner, Commins writes. “While much has been said about NPs and physicians' assistants alleviating the physician shortage, the survey shows that 75 percent of NPs said there is a national shortage of NPs. More than 80 percent of NPs said they are overworked in their practices or are at full capacity. NPs said they spend an average of 25 percent of their time on non-clinical paperwork.”

If they think it’s bad now, Miller warns, wait until they do receive the ability to have their own practices.

Nevertheless, this “small sampling” of NPs gives insight into the shifting dynamic taking place within healthcare.

As nurse practitioners and physician assistants looking for jobs, are you happy with the profession you’ve chosen? Do you agree with the survey respondents mentioned above? What do you hope will improve with your next position, and would you like to have an independent practice in the future?

To the physicians looking for jobs, why do you think so many of your colleagues are dissatisfied with your profession? How can this outlook be changed at your next job?

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