VITALS: June 2015
May was a very good month for healthcare jobs. The healthcare sector added 47,000 jobs in May, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The robust job growth in May came on top of the 45,200 healthcare jobs added in April. The last two months show a big jump from March, when 22,300 jobs were added, and February, with 27,300 new jobs.
In May, the biggest growth within healthcare came from ambulatory care services, which include home healthcare and outpatient care centers, where jobs increased by 28,000. Hospitals added 16,000 jobs in May.
Over the past year, national healthcare employment has increased by 408,000 jobs, according to the BLS.
Intensive Care Units are seeing greater numbers of nurse practitioners and physicians assistants in their staffing mix, according to a national study in the May issue of the American Journal of Critical Care.
An ongoing shortage of intensivist physicians has led many hospitals to consider alternate staffing models that use more NPs and PAs. “NPs and PAs have become essential members of the ICU team who can assist in patient care management as well as promote implementation of evidence-based practice and continuity of care,” wrote Ruth Kleinpell, RN, PhD, and her fellow authors.
According to the study, ICU provider-to-patient ratios tended to average 1:5 for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants. However, the ratio improves to 1:4 in pediatric intensive care units.
Factors that influenced the staffing mix included the number of patients on a unit, the severity of the patients’ illnesses, time of day, the number of physicians on the unit, and the number of fellows and medical residents working on the unit.
The number of physician assistants joining the workforce continues to grow rapidly.
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants recently released its 2014 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants. According to the report, there were 101,977 certified PAs as of December 31, 2014 — a 36.4% increase over the 74,777 certified PAs at the end of 2099.
The highest rate of growth was recorded in the states of Mississippi (25%) and Arkansas (17.8%).
The Association of American Medical Colleges is looking forward to a projected 30% increase in medical school enrollment by 2019.
The AAMC had recommended the 30% growth in enrollment in 2006 in response to a growing physician shortage that as forecasted to worsen. According to the AAMC Center for Workforce Studies’ annual Medical School Enrollment survey released in April, enrollment is on track to meet that goal. Enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year increased by 23% from the baseline of the 2002-2003 school year. And first-year medical school enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year should reach at least 29%. That will mean 21,304 first-year medical students—compared to the 16,488 who entered in the 2002-2003 school year.
Now the looming concern is finding training spots for all those future doctors. Clinical training opportunities are in short supply, with a growing number of schools reporting their concern. The survey results noted that entry-level residency programs are growing at a rate of about 1% per year—but enrollment is growing much faster.