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Physician Shortage Challenges Medical Groups And Increases Demand For Advanced Practitioners

ST. LOUIS, March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --  As the era of accountable care evolves and the medical home model becomes more prevalent in organizations, the delivery of successful patient outcomes is expected to be increasingly dependent on the performance of an effective patient care team. Forming and maintaining care teams – especially in primary care – will be among the industry's most significant challenges, according to the Cejka Search and American Medical Group Association's (AMGA) 2011 Physician Retention Survey, which for the first time includes staffing and turnover benchmarks for both advanced practitioners and physician staffing.

The turnover rate for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants reported by the survey is 12.6 percent, which nearly doubles the combined, adjusted physician turnover rate* of 6.0 percent. The combination of a projected physician shortage and already high turnover for nurse practitioners and physician assistants places even more pressure on medical groups to use advanced practitioners to fill the gaps in patient care and compensate them appropriately.  

"Recruiting and retaining physicians and advanced practitioners is more critical now than ever," said Lori Schutte, president, Cejka Search.  "In the previous year's survey, the majority of groups told us that the medical home model will deliver a competitive advantage in recruiting primary care physicians and advanced practitioners.  But finding, hiring and keeping them is a growing challenge.  Medical groups need to be prepared to hire the candidates that are the best fit for their organization."

"As organizations seek to meet these staffing demands, it is important to recognize that the qualities once sought in a physician or advanced practitioner five years ago have changed along with the health care environment," said Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., CAE, AMGA president and chief executive officer.  "Collaboration and teamwork are significantly more important to medical groups and health systems because care models and performance measures require it. The ability to work effectively as a member of an accountable care team becomes a valued skill for physicians and advanced practitioners who increasingly will partner with colleagues in primary care, hospital medicine, a wide range of specialties and subspecialties and allied health."

More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents from the 2011 survey reported that the involvement of advanced practitioners in their groups has grown "somewhat" or "significantly" in the past five years. This response increases to 75% when looking ahead toward the next five years. The respondents also indicated that they identified 21% and 13% growth in new positions, respectively, for physician assistants and nurse practitioners in their groups in the past twelve months.

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