To determine why there is a shortage of nurse practitioners it is best to understand that there is a shortage of healthcare workers overall. The shortage of nurse practitioners began in the 1960s as a result of a shortage of primary care physicians. This was due to many physicians pursuing medical specialties that were more profitable. (Hamric, Spross, &Hanson, 2009) In 1965 Medicare and Medicaid began providing health coverage to low-income women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. This increased the demand for primary care services. Physicians were unable to keep up with this increase in demand for their services so nurses were trained to fill the gap.
The shortage is affected by shortcomings at all levels of the process in becoming a nurse practitioner. In order to become a nurse practitioner one must first be a registered nurse. The minimum requirement to be a nurse is to complete a hospital based diploma program. These programs are scarce with most nurses completing an associate or baccalaureate degree program. This is 2-4 years before a nurse can begin working and continue on to become a nurse practitioner. The admission requirements for a typical nurse practitioner program require a baccalaureate degree in nursing from an accredited college or university program, licensure as a registered nurse in the state of which the nurse is employed and the recommendation of one year of practice.
According to the latest projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing report a 2.2% enrollment increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing in 2008, this increase is not sufficient to meet the projected demand for nurses. Health Resources and Services Administration officials state that “to meet the projected growth in demand for RN services, the U.S. must graduate approximately 90 percent more nurses from US nursing programs.”
What complicates nursing school admission even more is a shortage of nursing school faculty. According to a AACN survey, U.S. nursing schools turned away 49,948 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2008 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs. Unfilled faculty positions, resignations, retirements, and a shortage of students being prepared for the faculty role pose a threat to the nursing education workforce.
There is always discussion among nurses about going back to school for a BSN or nurse practitioner degree. The main complaint especially about the BSN is that a registered nurse will not make any more money and with being a nurse practitioner one does not make enough money to be compensated for the extra responsibility. The median salary for a nurse practitioner in the united states as of april 2009 is $82,590 and the median salary for a registered nurse is $62,311 as of december 2009. That is a difference of only $20,279 where a nurse who typically works a 36 hour week could work one 12 hour overtime shift a week and make $92,976. The salary for a nursing instructor is only $48,892 as of april 2009. These figures make continuing on to become a nurse practitioner and especially to take on the role of a nursing instructor less appealing.
Most nurses may not be aware of the APN core competencies but when compensation is set aside it may be these competencies that drive a nurse to become a nurse practitioner. If you ask a nurse why they chose their career the majority would respond because they like helping people. How better to help patients than to become an expert guide and coach to their care. Becoming a nurse practitioner to...