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The Case for Utilizing APPs to Mitigate the Physician Shortage (Includes Key Recruiting Tips)

Written by: Lisa A. Burke
Published on: May 25, 2020

female PA

The ongoing physician shortage across all practice areas is driving the need to hire a greater number of Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs), commonly referred to as Advanced Practice Providers (APPs).

Both PAs and NPs are trained to provide a wide range of clinical services, to include patient intake evaluations, patient diagnosis, minimally invasive procedures (e.g. dermatological repair, intubation and fetal monitoring), along with preventive health services, such as symptom management, prescription education and wellness counseling.  Both PAs and NPs also have prescriptive authority in all 50 states, although in some states NPs may not prescribe controlled substances.

A Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner can increase your facility’s revenue and productivity while providing excellent patient care with high levels of patient satisfaction. Since the compensation of PAs and NPs are considerably less than for a physician, hiring these professionals also results in a significant cost saving to the facility. As per Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of NPs as of 2018 was $113,930  while the median salary of PAs was $108,610.

Once your organization has decided to hire a PA or NP, the choice between the two may be dictated by the availability of qualified talent. Hiring APPs has become more challenging for healthcare recruiters due to an increasing demand. In addition, when APPs have specialty experience in areas such as surgery, orthopedic, pediatric or oncology, the demand for their services increases exponentially.

Key Strategies for Recruiting APPs

While APPs offer many skills across diverse clinical areas and may have managed their own patient caseloads, a significant challenge for facilities has been how to integrate physicians, NPs and PAs into a symbiotic clinical team. For this reason, it’s critical to clearly articulate the APPs skills, knowledge and training, as well as specific responsibilities to all members of the clinical team to ensure that everyone is working from the same set of expectations.

schedule interview

Here are 10 tips to help you recruit PAs and NPs effectively:

  1. Recruiters should confer with administrators and physicians to develop a profile of the ideal candidate. The clinical team may wish to hire an experienced candidate who could begin working with minimal training. However, some physicians may prefer to hire a new graduate and train them according to their style and mode of practice. New graduates will also have lower salary requirements.
  2. Create a detailed job description outlining specific duties, experience and educational requirements, along with required credentials. Be sure to include a section, typically at the top, regarding the facility’s culture: mission, values, benefits, tuition reimbursement, perks (e.g. onsite day care; onsite gym, work-life balance program).
  3. Before commencing active sourcing, it’s important to research  the credentialing and licensing regulations for both PAs and NPs in your state. These regulations can be found through the agencies that license PAs and NPs in your area. For example, in New York, the Office of Professions licenses PAs while the New York State Education Department licenses NPs.
  4. Promote the job opening and your facility in well-respected medical journals and job boards. You can reach highly qualified candidates by placing your recruitment advertisement in society-affiliated journals and websites.
  5. If your facility has staff who belong to professionals associations, such as the American Academy of Physician Assistants or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, ask them to connect with their marketing team and explore what advertising options are available. 
  6. Utilize social media to source candidates and join professional groups to begin building online relationship with prospective candidates.
  7. Make the application process quick and efficient because your facility is competing with many others for top talent. Use a quick form so that candidates only need to complete a few fields and submit a resume immediately. When a qualified candidate is identified, reach out promptly with a phone call rather than email. Ensure that all internal  stakeholders are in agreement with regard to the hiring process to foster a smooth and time-efficient candidate experience. 
  8. Develop a list of interview questions with all those involved in the process as this will help clarify the most important characteristics of a successful candidate. A standardized list also helps the team compare responses of candidates and ensures that bias does not enter into the hiring decision. Another benefit is that each interviewer will focus on a specific area (physicians on clinical/skills questions and HR on culture/personality fit) which results in a well-rounded discussion.
  9. On the day of the interview, ensure that all key staff members are present so that candidates do not need to make  multiple trips to the facility. 
  10. When the facility has identified a great candidate, extend the offer without delay. The recruiter can call to make a verbal offer but follow-up it up promptly with a formal letter and contract. 


With the shortage of primary care and specialty physicians throughout the country, many states are expanding the scope of practice for both PAs and NPs which may result in a severe shortage of APPs. It’s imperative that your facility needs a solid branding and marketing strategy, and effectively promote your organization as an employer of choice by highlighting benefits, perks and workplace culture.

Already have an APP opening? Post your job on now.