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Physician Assistants Are In Demand

Posted by Laura McMullen on Fri, Feb 12, 2016

The 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best jobs in the US are out and nine of the top 10 are healthcare providers, up from seven of 10 last year. Physician assistants saw the biggest change, moving to fifth place from 10th place.

One of the criteria the magazine uses in ranking professions is market demand. We’re seeing evidence of that in provider directories. The physician assistant total in NetMinder increased nearly three times as fast as the number of family practice, general practice, and internal medicine doctors in four of the largest national PPO networks between September 2014 and September 2015. Retention rates were slightly lower for the same period for physician assistants (85%) vs. doctors (89%).

Here’s the Top 10 from U.S. News & World Report:


(Computer systems analyst ranked third – the only non-healthcare provider job. Click here for the Top 100.)

Nearly 60% of the Projected Demand is for Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners

Physician assistants are filling the primary care access gap in many parts of the country. Demand for these professionals is high and training requirements are shorter than for physicians. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill started a two-year physician assistant training program that is specifically designed for non-traditional students, particularly veterans with medical experience.  Students are typically older and have more clinical experience compared to the national average. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina donated $1.2 million to the program.

And by working with doctors and other healthcare professionals, nurse practitioners help make resources in acute and primary care settings more effective. In fact, in a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing patients and families described “processes that were effectively used by teams with a nurse practitioner; these included improved communication, involvement in decision-making, cohesion, coordination of care, solving problems, and focusing on the needs of patients and their families.”

Demand For Other Healthcare Providers Small But Significant

While the absolute number of orthodontists and obstetricians needed is low, they represent a significant percentage of the workforce and the training programs are long and rigorous. Many of these professionals serve limited populations during occasional periods with time-consuming or high-risk services which also suppresses demand resulting in a few openings with high rewards.

All nine have similar satisfaction rankings and unemployment rates with the major differences in demand and salary possibilities. As in past years, the rankings take compensation, flexibility, opportunities for advancement, market demand, amount of stress, and skills or training required into consideration. See the methodology here.

How are you addressing these supply and demand trends in your network development plans?

Tags: network development, best jobs, healthcare providers





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