Individuals interested in pursuing a career in healthcare should benefit from an abundance of job opportunities in the foreseeable future. The employment outlook for doctors is promising — a report released by the Association of American Colleges in early 2017 predicts a shortfall of between 40,000 and 105,000 primary care physicians in the United States. Reasons for the demand for qualified doctors include a substantial population of aging Baby Boomers requiring medical care and the desire of many physicians to work shorter hours in quest of a healthier work-life balance.
Physician Career Outlook: Behind the Numbers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for physicians and surgeons is expected to increase from 713,800 in 2016 to 805,200 in 2026, a gain of approximately 13 percent. This far exceeds the predicted seven-percent growth rate for all other occupations. More specifically, positions for health diagnosing and treating practitioners should jump by 16 percent during this 10-year time frame.
The Ongoing Need for Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Nurses
While the job outlook for doctors is bright, one can also make a similar claim regarding job opportunities for physician assistants (PAs) and advanced practice nurses (APNs). These licensed professionals ease the burden on doctors by performing many of their routine duties, while also fulfilling an essential collaborative function. The BLS indicates that the number of these PA jobs will increase by 37 percent from 2016 to 2026, while nurse practitioner positions should experience a 31 percent growth rate.
The Shifting Labor Force Can Increase Liability Exposure
An analysis of the employment data makes it clear that PAs and APNs will play a more prominent role in administering patient care in the future. Consequently, the physicians who supervise their activities will face greater exposure to medical malpractice claims and the associated liability. Physicians and healthcare facilities can mitigate their risk by:
- Implementing Stringent Hiring Practices: Comprehensive vetting of all PA and APN job candidates is imperative. Hiring protocols should include thorough criminal and employment background checks, verification of academic and licensing credentials and assessment of the adequacy of skills and training.
- Developing Carefully Crafted Written Agreements: Physicians should indicate in writing the specific role and job duties of each PA and APN and have them sign off on the agreement.
- Providing Adequate Supervision: As a physician, you are ultimately responsible for all patient outcomes. Make sure PAs and APN are acting within the scope of their duties. Establish and maintain open channels of communication to alleviate confusion that could result in treatment errors.
- Carrying Adequate Liability Insurance Coverage: Even the most conscientious treatment and patient care protocols will not eliminate the possibility of malpractice. Review your medical malpractice insurance policy to ensure it is sufficient for your level of risk.
As the largest broker for medical malpractice in the United States, Gallagher Healthcare can provide a comprehensive liability insurance plan that will mitigate your risk and give you peace of mind. Contact us for more information and a no-obligation quote today.