Nurse Practitioners Report High Levels of Professional Satisfaction

By Melissa Hagstrom, contributor

October 23, 2013 - Finally, some good news related to healthcare.

According to Staff Care’s 2013 Survey of Nurse Practitioners: Trends and Perspectives, nurse practitioners (NPs) are satisfied with their careers, optimistic about the future and are likely to recommend this career to young people. In fact, 100 percent of the survey respondents indicated they had positive feelings about being an NP.

Given today’s tumultuous healthcare climate, the findings are a breath of fresh air for the industry, noted Margaret Crump, MPH, chief operations officer at the American Nurse Practitioner Foundation (ANPF).

The survey was conducted by Staff Care, an AMN Healthcare company and the nation’s leading locum tenens physician and advanced practitioner staffing firm, in partnership with the ANPF. It was designed to evaluate practice patterns, overall morale, career outlook and NPs’ thoughts on their role and how it may be changing in the future. The survey was conducted at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) annual meeting where Staff Care obtained 222 completed surveys from NPs in attendance.

“Ultimately, this is the most professionally satisfied group that we have ever seen,” said Michelle Hoogerwerf, divisional vice president for Staff Care’s advanced practice and radiology division. “Ninety-nine percent were optimistic about their future in the profession, which is really great.”

NPs feel very fulfilled by what they are doing, Crump explained.  “They have a passion and they are very mission-oriented.”

Although 96 percent of survey respondents said they would choose to be an NP if they had their careers to do over, there were some interesting findings in relation to workload and capacity.

Eighty-one percent of respondents indicated they were either overworked, overextended or at full capacity, and only 19 percent said they could see more patients or take on more responsibility.

“It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 1-3 years with the physician shortage and all of the newly insured patients entering the system,” Hoogerwerf said. “I think that the idea is that the NPs and physicians assistants are going to come to the rescue, but part of our survey really shows that we are seeing some early signs of the NPs themselves being overextended.”

Crump noted that although the majority of respondents operate at full capacity, they still reported being completely satisfied with their jobs, a nuance that few other professions can share.

“NPs do so much, they are teachers, do research and so much more,” Crump said. “They are at full capacity of what they can do--and loving it.”

The results of the NP survey are in stark contrast compared to physicians completing a similar survey. In the fall of 2012, Merritt Hawkins, an AMN Healthcare company, released a national survey of 13,575 physicians that it completed on behalf of The Physicians Foundation. While 100 percent of nurse practitioners had positive feelings about their profession, only 32 percent of physicians felt the same way.

“The professional morale on the MD side was only at 42 percent (positive responses), and only 13 percent of physicians had positive thoughts about the future of the profession; compared with 97 percent of NPs,” Hoogerwerf said.

Increased NP salaries, demand for services, clinical autonomy and improved acceptance and scope of practice could all be factors that contribute to such a variance between the NP and physician responses.

The NPs reported they spend an average of 25 percent of their time on nonclinical paperwork, a number Crump hopes can be reduced with technology and increased resources.

“Technology is exploding in healthcare right now,” Crump said. “As a foundation, we want to find ways to fill the gap on behalf of the NP. We are looking at ways to get them information quicker, provide scholarships and grants, and help them reduce the nonclinical paperwork hours in any way.”

“All signs for nurse practitioners are pointing upward,” Hoogerwerf concluded. “Their roles are an integral part of the healthcare delivery team.”

To read the full results, download the Staff Care/ANPF 2013 Survey of Nurse Practitioners.

© 2013. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.