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Critical Shortage of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Emerging Over Next Decade

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2019

Contact:
Justin T. Worsley
917-746-8299 * jworsley@napnap.org

Critical Shortage of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Emerging Over Next Decade
White paper calls for identifying areas in practice and policy where interventions will support maximizing contributions of PNPs to high-quality, accessible, and affordable pediatric health care.

More complex patients, lack of pediatric advanced practice faculty, increased demand are leading causes

NEW YORK, May 2, 2019 – Of 270,000 nurse practitioners in the U.S., less than 8 percent are educated and certified as pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs). While the number of family nurse practitioner graduates increases dramatically each year, the supply of PNPs has not appreciably grown compared with other NP subspecialties. Roughly 1,025 PNPs become licensed each year, and the total current workforce is approximately 18,100. The pediatric provider shortage is even more concerning when pediatrician statistics are reviewed. With just under 50,000 primary care pediatricians, there are insufficient numbers of pediatric primary care providers to care for the increasingly demanding and complex needs of children, and many U.S. counties continue to have a critical provider shortage. Underserved and rural areas are most detrimentally affected, with current provider shortages leaving millions of children without access to a pediatric primary care provider.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports there was an estimated 74 million children in 2016, about 23 percent of the U.S. population. That number is estimated to grow to 76.3 million children in 2030.

The PNP provider is essential to the delivery of direct services to children in all health care settings, including primary, hospital, outpatient and specialty care. According to recent studies, the utilization of PNPs increases patient access to care, contributes to quality care, and provides patients with provider continuity. And perhaps more importantly, studies confirm that nurse practitioners consistently show willingness to practice in underserved areas, as well as to treat Medicaid patients and other vulnerable populations with demanding special health care needs.

“Children are about 25 percent of the U.S. population yet universities and healthcare employers are failing to prioritize educating and hiring experts in child health to serve this important segment of our population,” said NAPNAP President Dawn Garzon Maaks, PhD, CPNP-PC, PMHS, FAANP. “With critical shortages looming in both PNP clinicians and faculty segments, NAPNAP worries about ensuring the health of our children. It’s in the best interest of our country to build a PNP workforce that will provide high quality, value-based, evidence-based care and treatment for our youth so they can become healthy, thriving and productive adults.”

The paper offers strategic recommendations to ensure children continue to have access to qualified pediatric providers in order to improve child health outcomes and value-based care.

  • Research is urgently needed in the following areas:
    • Data collection and analysis of PNP workforce for adequacy in size, type of skills needed for primary, acute and specialty practices, and geographic distribution
    • Evaluation of direct clinical and indirect patient care provided by PNPs to ensure the workforce is meeting the demands of the profession, health care system and employers, and patient outcomes and quality measures
    • Effects of PNPs practicing, without barriers, to the full extent of their education, training and certification
    • Analysis of challenges in recruitment and retention of PNPs in clinical practice and academic programs
  • Continued development of delivery systems which acknowledge that PNPs may serve as designated leaders of interdisciplinary teams in order to improve patient-centered and value-based care
  • Federal and institutional organizational change that encourage all PNPs to bill for services under their own unique NPI number and share/split billing in acute care settings so that analysis can be conducted on financial savings, value-based care models and patient outcomes

Read the full article published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.