Healthcare Insider Blog

How the Affordable Care Act has impacted demand and opportunity for Doctors of Nursing Practice

  • Healthcare Alvernia

DNP students in the nursing lab

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, created a major transformation in the health care system, especially for current DNPs and those preparing to enter the profession, such as current students within Alvernia’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Reaching its five-year anniversary this year we can see some tangibles. The percentage of uninsured Americans has reduced by approximately 25 percent — that’s somewhere between eight million and 11 million people who have access to health care who did not before ACA was set in place.

And as patients increase, so must DNPs. Noted by the National Governors Association, “as millions of Americans who previously lacked insurance enter the health care system over the next decade, the nation will require a concomitant increase in the number of health care providers.”

And more than just health care providers, the need for primary care providers and DNPs is in high demand. A study published by The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing notes that most newly insured patients will access care through primary care clinics, which are already experiencing a shortage in providers. This makes programs like Alvernia’s Doctorate of Nursing Practice, which focus solely on the primary care sector, so viable to the future of health care.

“The DNP nurse has the educational preparation to play an essential role in supporting and leading this transformation of health care to improve health care outcomes,” explains Dr. Donna R. Hodnicki (PhD, FNP-BC, FAAN) and Breanna Lathrop (MSN, MPH, FNP-BC), authors of the study.

As of June 19, 2014, the most recently updated count done by The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) shows that there are approximately 6,100 designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) in the U.S. Based on a 1:3,500 physician to population ratio, this puts the demand at 8,200 DNPs to eliminate the need.

On the contrary, other sources feel that a 1:2,000 physician to population ratio is more accurate, which leaves the demand at 16,000 DNPs to eliminate the shortage.

With numbers such as these, it should come as no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 34 percent job growth in the field of nurse practitioners in the next five to ten years, a much faster growth rate than average.

Though in some senses experts say that more time will be needed to accurately determine all of the implications that the ACA has had on the population, we can be sure of one thing: The demand for DNPs is strong and the job outlook for Alvernia’s Doctor of Nursing Practice students looks more than promising.

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