Nationwide, there exists a shortage of primary care physicians. According to a report recently issued by the Massachusetts Medical Society, fewer medical school graduates across the country are choosing to go into this field. At the same time, public and private insurance plans consistently under-reimburse primary care doctors for their service, which feeds the trend against selecting this medical specialty.
According to PBS News Hour, this shortage will be made worse in 2014, when new federal healthcare reforms begin. As a result of these legal provisions, an additional 32 million Americans who did not previously have healthcare will be able to afford it and will be looking for a doctor. There are some who believe that nurse practitioners can fill this gap.
Nurse practitioners typically complete between two and three years of post-graduate work and are able to treat patients independently in 17 states and the District of Colombia. As the National Nursing Centers Consortium has estimated that half of the 91,000 doctor shortage that currently exists in this country could help to be made up by nurse practitioners, individuals interested in the healthcare industry may want to consider pursuing a masters in nursing degree online.