Pediatric health care work force planning efforts are increasingly incorporating the roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, especially in plansto alleviate the perceived shortage of pediatric subspecialists.
However, results from four new studies of pediatric nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners, neonatal nurse practitioners, and pediatric physician assistants published online in the journal Pediatrics do not seem to support that idea. The work was conducted by the University of Michigan's Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit, led by Gary L. Freed, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of the CHEAR Unit.
"Although there are overall increases among those professionals, there has been no increase in the number of nurse practitioners and physician assistants going into pediatric health care," Freed says. "Newly trained professionals in those jobs will likely decrease going forward as more health care systems are designed to take care of the elderly population. Health systems need to re-think many of their future plans."
"This is a wake-up call," Freed says. "No one bothered to check whether or not there are more nurse practitioners and physician assistants available to provide care to children. Health care planners are making assumptions about a workforce that may not exist to the extent of their projections."
"Children are becoming a smaller and smaller proportion of the U.S. population. We must ensure that as our society ages, we have a sufficient medical workforce at all levels to address health care needs."
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. The original article was written by Margarita B. Wagerson. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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