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... [continues]
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