Retail Clinics Are Flourishing, but How Will the Staffing Shortage Challenge Growth?

August 1, 2015

With more than 10 million patients visiting retail clinics every year (Forbes), retail clinic growth is booming and patient satisfaction has generally exceeded 90% (Convenient Care Association).

Providing the bulk of this care are nurse practitioners (NPs).

But the retail clinic industry is in the midst of a significant challenge that will only increase as convenient care clinics grow: Retail clinics are expanding concurrently with a serious healthcare practitioner shortage that is affecting the very health professionals operating the convenient care clinic machine.

Because of the primary care physician shortage, estimates suggest that primary care physicians taking sole responsibility for the care of their patients would need to spend 18 hours per day to provide a full range of diagnostic and preventive services, supporting the implementation of the team-based model of care (“Transforming Primary Care: From Past Practice To the Practice of the Future.” Health Affairs). As a result, the primary care shortage is driving NPs to pick up the expanding workload in the primary care arena. This puts NPs in high demand for various healthcare delivery systems, including primary care, urgent care, hospitals and retail clinics. In fact, 85% to 90% of clinicians employed by retail clinics are nurse practitioners (Convenient Care Association).

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