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PCPs Think Skilled Medical Students Should Become NPs

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Recent research from The New England Journal of Medicine reveals that physicians are overwhelmingly recommending that medical students pursue primary-care careers as nurse practitioners rather than as physicians, reports Medical Xpress.

According to the article, “…a recent survey finds that more physicians would recommend that qualified students pursue careers as nurse practitioners than as primary-care physicians.”

“Our data have shown that primary-care physicians and nurse practitioners are being educated in very different ways to provide similar types of clinical services,” senior author Karen Donelan, ScD, EdM, of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. “Nurse practitioners report much greater career satisfaction, work fewer hours, and have more time with patients. Primary-care physicians appear more beleaguered and work longer hours but are better paid. We need a national dialogue that will assure the public can access primary-care services provided by clinicians whose roles and skills are clear.”

And lead author Catherine DesRoches, DrPH, of Mathematica Policy Research, said, “These findings suggest that solving the primary-care clinician shortage will require more than simply training a greater number of physicians. Efforts should be aimed at reimagining how the entire primary-care workforce should be structured, with one goal of the process being an increase in primary-care physicians' career satisfaction. Without a significant shift in how these clinician's view their careers, efforts to bolster the workforce are likely to fall short.”

The Medical XPress article says that approximately 2,000 primary-care clinicians, “evenly divided between physicians and nurse practitioners,” were surveyed during 2012 and 2013, with 467 nurse practitioners and 505 physicians responding.

According to the article, “While more than 80 percent of both groups agreed that there is a national shortage of primary-care physicians, both types of professionals were more likely to recommend a career as a nurse practitioner than as a physician. Although 56 percent of primary-care physicians did recommend their own career, 66 percent would recommend careers as primary-care nurse practitioners. Among nurse practitioners, 88 percent would recommend that students pursue their own career, while 67 percent would recommend careers as primary-care physicians.”

Of course, the article clarifies, the physicians who recommend this are more than likely doing so because of how they view their respective careers.

“While the majority of primary-care physicians indicated being satisfied with their current employment and career choice, among the almost half who indicated being somewhat satisfied or dissatisfied with their career choice, only 37 percent would recommend careers as primary-care physicians, while 63 percent would recommend a career as a nurse practitioner.”

As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, what are your thoughts on this report’s findings? Do the opinions expressed reflect your own opinions? Do you think that these findings indicate a developing trend where more medical students will pursue primary-care careers as nurse practitioners than as physicians?

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