If primary care is the foundation of the evolving health care system in this country, and if access to primary care for all is the goal, then nurse practitioners will be increasingly crucial to achieving these aims. Let’s face it, in our current system, there just aren’t enough primary care providers to meet the nation’s need while containing costs and focusing on quality outcomes. With an estimated 30 million more people who will be covered and require access to full primary care based on the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) numbers, we will need additional providers functioning to their fullest preparation.
2013 National Resident Matching Program Data
The 2013 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) released in March is not good news for primary care. Although matching rates were up overall, the primary care numbers are still very low given the national need. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP, 2013), only an additional 92 U.S. graduate medical students were matched to primary care specialties compared to a year ago. That translates to 39 more family medicine resident positions filled, 14 more internal medicine positions, 3 more pediatric and 36 pediatric/internal medicine positions filled, compared to 2012. The bottom line is 1,916 U.S. medical school grads were matched to primary care residency programs, with a total of 3,715 primary care matches when international graduates are included (AAFP,2013; NRMP, 2013) .
Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 2012 Graduation Rates
At the same time, the 2012 nurse practitioner (NP) graduation rates announced recently by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (AACN/NONPF 2013) showed a continued increase in primary care. Primary care NP graduates include those prepared as pediatric, family, adult, gerontological, adult/gerontological, and women’s health NPs. They numbered 11,764 in 2012 compared to 9,708 in 2011, an increase of 18.6 percent or 2,228 NPs.
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