California Nurse Practitioners Are Positioned To Fill The Primary Care Gap, But They Face Barriers To Practice

September 3, 2018

Nurse practitioners are well prepared to help fill care gaps arising from shortages of primary care physicians in California. This article reports findings from a survey of California nurse practitioners that examined their employment and practice barriers. The number of nurse practitioners per capita varies across California counties and is positively correlated with the number of physicians per capita. Hispanic and Filipino nurse practitioners are more likely to live in underserved areas. Nurse practitioners and their education programs are concentrated in the same counties that have high physician-to-population ratios. In these counties, recently graduated nurse practitioners are more likely to report that they plan to relocate to another state in the next five years. Expanding education programs in underserved areas, increasing the diversity of the nurse practitioner workforce, and ensuring that nurse practitioners feel empowered to fully use their skills are necessary to meet both current and future primary care needs.