By David Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Aug 16, 2013 – Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are increasingly choosing subspecialty practices and could come up short in helping fill the shortage of primary care physicians, according to the research arm of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
“Many nurse practitioners graduate with family, adult, or pediatric degrees but then go on to work in subspecialty offices, similar to the preponderance of physicians entering residency in internal medicine or pediatrics at the end of medical school who go on to further training and practice in subspecialties,” the study published Thursday in American Family Physician found.
Researcher Stephen Petterson, PhD, and colleagues at the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, in Washington, reviewed data from the National Provider Identifier file to find out where NPs and PAs are working and if they’re practicing with physicians. They found fewer than half of PAs and slightly more than half of NPs were practicing in primary care.
“We are finding that the trends towards subspecialization we see among physicians are also occurring in the nurse practitioner and physician assistant communities,” Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, director of the Robert Graham Center, said. “This finding corroborates recent federal studies of nurse practitioners and those of physician assistant organizations.”