According to a recent New York Times article, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. By 2025, the gap is expected to double as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for health care.
While patients will still receive care in the face of a doctor shortage, there is some concern that the process will become slower and more difficult. Looking toward the future and anticipating potential repercussions of a doctor shortage, some government agencies and officials are hoping nurses will be able to help fill the gaps. Despite a recent economic downturn which has negatively impacted many industries, job opportunities for nurses remain strong. In a recent article in ADVANCE for Nurses, Rhonda M. Zaleski, MS, RN, CHPN, corporate director, nurse recruitment and workforce planning at Penn Medicine, said that nurses with BSNs and those advancing their education are especially in demand.
Recognizing this need, on Monday the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, along with four other hospitals across the nation, has been selected to participate in an initiative to train additional advanced-practice registered nurses (APRN). Nurses with this designation generally have post-graduate training and are able to diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication and treatment regimens, and perform procedures consistent with their scope of practice.
The HHS Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration, funded under the Affordable Care Act, aims to strengthen the nation’s primary care work force by placing more APRNs in practice and thereby increasing the ranks of primary and preventive caregivers to help fill gaps in non-hospital community-based settings, including in underserved areas.
The prestigious award, which grants an estimated $36 million over four years to HUP (a total of approximately $200 million over four years to the five selected hospitals), will be distributed to multiple clinical sites in the Philadelphia area to offset the costs of clinical education of advanced practice nurses. In turn, nurses in the program will receive the primary care, preventive care, transitional care, and the chronic care management skills needed to provide effective and well-coordinated care. HUP will manage and administer the grant funding for the program, which will also include participation from Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, CPUP, CCA and CHOP as well as 12 other clinical training sites.
“This grant affords us the opportunity to provide advanced training to hundreds of nurses over the next four years, which could really make a difference to the quality of care we deliver to our patients,” said Victoria Rich, PhD, RN, FAAN, Chief Nurse Executive at HUP. “We’re honored to lead this effort for the Philadelphia region and are thrilled that HHS recognizes the pivotal role nurses play in patient safety and the need for more in-depth training to improve patient care on a national level.”
HUP’s grant application was developed in partnership with faculty in Penn’s School of Nursing who played a major role in crafting the successful application and took the lead in establishing a consortium of eight other area nursing schools to participate in the implementation of the grant.
Joining HUP are Duke University Hospital (Durham, NC), Scottsdale Healthcare Medical Center (Scottsdale, AZ), Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL) and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center Hospital (Houston, TX).