Increase of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Needed to Overcome Shortage

Jennifer Nessel, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
A report from the Journal of Pediatric Health Care has revealed that the number of pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) has not appreciably grown when compared with other nurse practitioner (NP) subspecialties. Furthermore, with approximately 18,100 PNPS and 50,000 primary care pediatricians currently in the workforce, there are insufficient numbers of pediatric primary care providers to care for the increasingly demanding and complex needs of children.
Of 270,000 NPs in the United States, less than 8% are educated and certified as PNPs, yet the United States Census Bureau reports an estimated 74 million children in 2016, a number expected to grow to 76.3 million in 2030.

According to the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), PNP providers are necessary for delivering direct services to children in all health care settings, including primary, hospital, outpatient ,and specialty care.
The utilization of PNPs increases patient access to care, contributes to quality care, and provides patients with provider continuity, NAPNAP said in a press release. Also, recent studies confirm that nurse practitioners consistently show willingness to practice in underserved areas as well as to treat Medicaid patients and other vulnerable populations with demanding special health care needs.
“Children are about 25% of the U.S. population, yet universities and healthcare employers are failing to prioritize educating and hiring experts in child health to serve this important segment of our population,” said NAPNAP President Dawn Garzon Maaks, PhD, CPNP-PC, PMHS, FAANP.
The white paper offers strategic recommendations to ensure children continue to have access to qualified pediatric providers in order to improve child health outcomes and value-based care.
Research is urgently needed in the following areas:
  • Data collection and analysis of PNP workforce for adequacy in size, type of skills needed for primary, acute and specialty practices, and geographic distribution
  • Evaluation of direct clinical and indirect patient care provided by PNPs to ensure the workforce is meeting the demands of the profession, health care system and employers, and patient outcomes and quality measures
  • Effects of PNPs practicing, without barriers, to the full extent of their education, training and certification
  • Analysis of challenges in recruitment and retention of PNPs in clinical practice and academic programs
Other needs include:
  • Continued development of delivery systems which acknowledge that PNPs may serve as designated leaders of interdisciplinary teams in order to improve patient-centered and value-based care
  • Federal and institutional organizational change that encourage all PNPs to bill for services under their own unique NPI number and share/split billing in acute care settings so that analysis can be conducted on financial savings, value-based care models and patient outcomes
“With critical shortages looming in both PNP clinicians and faculty segments, NAPNAP worries about ensuring the health of our children,” continued Maaks. “It’s in the best interest of our country to build a PNP workforce that will provide high quality, value-based, evidence-based care and treatment for our youth so they can become healthy, thriving and productive adults.”


Critical Shortage of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Emerging Over Next Decade [news release]. New York, NY; May 2, 2019: NAPNAP website. Accessed May 7, 2019.

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