PHILADELPHIA - The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply is calling for a new partnership between nursing and medicine to address the growing shortage of physicians and nurses.
The Council, based at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, noted physician shortages exist within most specialties and that nursing shortages are widespread. At current training levels, there will be too few physicians and nurses to meet future demand.
According to the Council, physicians and nurses are interdependent and shortages in either discipline exacerbate shortages in the other. It concluded that action to alleviate the existing and projected shortages must be a high priority for the government and educational organizations, but training more practitioners will not suffice.
Instead, the Council called for training a new generation of professionals who will be capable of working together across the full range of services from prevention and health promotion to disease management.
To achieve the desired goals, medical educators face the dual challenges of building medical school capacity and expanding the number of residency positions, while also restructuring medical education. Nurse educators face similar challenges in increasing the production of new registered nurses, particularly those with bachelor of nursing degrees, while also increasing the numbers of nurses who obtain graduate degrees that prepare them for advanced practice and faculty roles.
Meeting these goals will require increased investment in undergraduate medical education and in both baccalaureate and graduate education for nurses. It also will require that current caps on Medicare support for graduate medical education be lifted and that new equitable means be developed to support GME.
The Council is composed of health-care leaders dedicated to bringing physician and nurse supply in line with the nation's needs.