March 4, 2024

Nurse practitioners fueling primary care workforce growth

In this week’s graphic, we highlight how the primary care provider workforce has evolved over the past decade in both the pursuit of team-based care models and value-based care, as well as in response to rising labor costs and physician shortages. In 2010, physicians made up more than 70 percent of the primary care workforce.But over the next 12 years, the number of primary care providers nearly doubled, largely driven by immense growth of nurse practitioners in the workforce. As of 2022, more than half of primary care providers were advanced practice providers (APPs), who continue to have a strong job outlook across the next decade (especially nurse practitioners). This shift has been beneficial to many provider organizations. In a study from the Mayo Clinic, the return on investment was positive across a variety of APP practice models, especially in procedural-based specialties but across both independent practice models and full care team models as well. APPs also receive similar patient experience scores as their physician counterparts. Continued integration of APPs in team-based care models remains a key strategy for health systems seeking to improve access while lowering costs, especially in primary care.

Primary Care Workforce Graphic