Shortage of Primary Care Providers

Table of Contents


In recent years, the disturbingly growing shortage of registered nurses and primary care providers has projected a highly negative influence on the United States health care system. According to the latest research, the current shortage of health care professionals is more than eight thousand professionals, and this number continues to grow (“Nurse practitioners and the primary care shortage,” n.d.). There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon, however, federal and state authorities should take action to alleviate the shortages.

Shortage’s Reasons

The growing demand for health care specialists may be regarded as a considerable reason for its current shortage. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was passed in 2010 may be regarded as “the most expansive healthcare reform legislation in the United States” in recent decades (Lathrop & Hodnicki, 2014, para. 5). In general, the ACA aims to establish new directions for the health care system with a specific emphasis on primary care and preventive services (Lathrop & Hodnicki, 2014). First of all, it implies the providing of insurance coverage to a considerable number of currently uninsured citizens. As a result, the ACA’s implementation led to the increasing need for advanced practice registered nurses that traditionally play a highly essential role in primary care. However, the existing number of competent nurses cannot rapidly meet this demand to provide high-quality health care delivery.

An increasingly aging population may be regarded as another indirect reason for the shortage of advanced nurse practitioners. A substantial number of primary care physicians and nurses are currently ceasing operations and retiring (“Nurse practitioners and the primary care shortage,” n.d.). In turn, a lack of qualified health care providers contributes to the shortages as well. Even though the general rates of medical school graduation have considerably increased, fewer physicians currently choose primary care specialties (“Nurse practitioners and the primary care shortage,” n.d.). At the same time, nursing practice is highly limited in multiple states across the country.

Potential Solutions

To alleviate the shortages of health care professionals, nurses should be provided with opportunities for professional growth and appropriate working conditions. For instance, the requirements for the earning of advanced degrees for registered nurses may be simplified. In addition, the primary care providers’ shortage in multiple states across the country is connected with the limitation of nurse practitioners’ autonomy. The restricted scope of practice implies the physician’s control over the nurse practitioner’s activities. North Carolina is among states where nursing practice authority is limited (“Where can nurse practitioners work without physician supervision?” n.d.). As a result, the rural areas of the state experience a shortage and even an abundance of health care professionals as nurse practitioners cannot work independently.


In general, an increasingly aging population, a growing demand of nurse practitioners due to the ACA, a lack of qualified professionals may be regarded as the main reasons for the primary care providers disturbing shortage in the United States. At the same time, the potential actions to alleviate this shortage include the providing of attractive working conditions for nurses and the simplification of the process of nursing degrees obtainment. In addition, the authorities of particular states across the country, including North Carolina, should make attempts to reduce the restriction of nursing practice autonomy. In this case, nurse practitioners will receive an opportunity to execute their practice independently and provide effective health care delivery in areas without physicians.


Lathrop, B., & Hodnicki, D. R. (2014). The Affordable Care Act: Primary care and the doctor of nursing practice nurse. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(2). Web.

Where can nurse practitioners work without physician supervision? (n.d.). Simmons University. 2020. Web.

Nurse practitioners and the primary care shortage. (n.d.). REGIS. 2020, Web.

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