Physician Perm September 8, 2021

2020/2021 Sees Highest Demand for Nurse Practitioners

Since early 2020, the global pandemic has wreaked havoc on medical professionals, health systems and the healthcare recruiting industry. It has been a time like no other. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that 2020/2021 saw some changes in demand for nurse practitioners, other advanced practitioners, and physicians across the United States.

In fact, nurse practitioners (NPs) claimed the top spot as the most in-demand medical providers over the past year, based on AMN Healthcare’ requests from hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country. These results in the new 2021 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives represent the first time in the report’s 28-year history that the placement firm conducted more search engagements for nurse practitioners than for any other type of provider.

“COVID-19 and other forces are changing the dynamics of physician and advanced practitioner recruiting,” said Tom Florence, president of AMN Healthcare. “NPs are coming into their own in a market that puts a premium on easy access to care and cost containment.”

The 2021 Review indicated that COVID-19 contributed to a 25 percent decline in demand for physicians, as many hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare facilities shut down services and lost revenue. Yet, during this atypical year, the demand for nurse practitioners increased by 24 percent.

Meanwhile, the demand for other advanced practitioners was down. The number of searches for physician assistants (PAs) was less than half what it was the previous year. The number of requests for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) was also down year-over-year, likely due to a reduction in elective surgeries that occurred throughout the country during the pandemic. Yet, the average starting salaries for all three advanced practice roles saw an increase this past year.

The demand and starting salaries for advanced practitioners

NP starting salaries show increase

Along with the significant increase in demand for nurse practitioners this past year (24 percent), the average starting salaries for NPs also showed strong growth in AMN Healthcare’ most recent review of recruiting incentives. The average salary offer for NPs increased 12 percent year-over-year to $140,000 in 2020/2021. These numbers represent base salary or guaranteed income only, not accounting for any production bonus or benefits.

The average starting salaries for nurse practitioners over the past five years:

  • $140,000 average NP salary in 2020/2021
  • $125,000 average NP salary in 2019/2020
  • $124,000 average NP salary in 2018/2019
  • $129,000 average NP salary in 2017/2018
  • $123,000 average NP salary in 2016/2017

Trends in PA starting salaries

Although the number of search requests for physician assistants was down significantly over this past year, the average starting salaries for PAs increased by 14 percent, from $112,000 to $128,000. The 2021 Review noted the following salary trends over the past five years:

  • $128,000 average PA salary in 2020/2021
  • $112,000 average PA salary in 2019/2020
  • $110,000 average PA salary in 2018/2019
  • $101,000 average PA salary in 2017/2018
  • $115,000 average PA salary in 2016/2017

Trends in CRNA starting salaries

AMN Healthcare’ data shows that the demand for CRNA placements was down nearly 10 percent year-over-year, but candidates’ average salary offers still saw a small increase (3.3 percent). Here are the average starting salaries reported for nurse anesthetists over the past five years:

  • $222,000 average CRNA salary in 2020/2021
  • $215,000 average CRNA salary in 2019/2020
  • $197,000 average CRNA salary in 2018/2019
  • $194,000 average CRNA salary in 2017/2018
  • $202,000 average CRNA salary in 2016/2017

In all of the above specialties, these numbers reflect the incentives that advanced professionals are offered to attract them to new practice settings rather than what they may actually earn and report on their tax returns. The range of incentives detailed in AMN Healthcare’ annual Review may be used as benchmarks for evaluating which recruitment incentives are customary and competitive in today’s market.

NPs and PAs contributing to team-based care

There are over 270,000 NPs practicing in the United States today, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), with 78 percent of them delivering primary care. By contrast, about one-third of the more than 120,000 PAs practicing in the United States work in primary care, while two-thirds work in specialty areas, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

The 2021 Review reports that NPs and PAs are playing a growing role in team-based care, caring for patients, coordinating the efforts of all members of the team, and allowing doctors to focus on the most complex patients and procedures. Their ability to educate patients, ensure patient compliance, reduce costs and enhance patient satisfaction makes them an ideal resource for value-based delivery systems. Many NPs and PAs are also growing into leadership positions that will be critical for the transition to quality-based care.

Want to learn more about the current recruitment trends, starting salaries and incentives being offered to physicians and advanced practitioners?

Download your copy: 2021 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives

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