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Locums News February 18, 2022

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

The Best Advanced Practitioner Jobs in Health Care

Nurse practitioner jobs and physician assistant jobs topped the 2022 U.S. News & World Report “Best Health Care Jobs” listing, reflecting in part the increasing demand for these professionals.

“U.S. News & World Report ranking of NPs as the nation’s top health care job demonstrates the strength of the profession in serving patients and communities and meeting the skyrocketing demand for high-quality healthcare across the country,” said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in a statement. “These rankings highlight what we have known for some time: the NP role is not just a job, it’s a calling for more than 325,000 NPs who are working tirelessly on the front lines of healthcare, from hospitals to primary care clinics, in patients’ homes and via telehealth.”

No. 1: Nurse practitioners (NPs)

U.S. News cited NPs as performing diagnostics, completing physical exams, prescribing medications and treatments, and educating patients. The median annual salary for an NP is $111,680, and 114,900 additional nurse practitioner jobs will be created by 2030.

NPs are advanced practice nurses that may specialize or work in research or academia. However according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 88.9 percent of NPs are certified in primary care, and 70.2 percent deliver primary care.

In many states, NPs have full practice authority, while others require a collaborative agreement with a physician.

“NPs are highly trained and committed healthcare providers improving the health of their patients and communities,” Kapu said. “As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s NPs will continue delivering high-quality care in every healthcare setting and expanding access to care in vulnerable and underserved communities. Their dedication makes me proud to be an NP.”

Find NP locum tenens jobs with Staff Care.

No. 2: Physician assistants/associates (PAs)

PAs came in second on the U.S. News listing. They also examine, diagnose and treat patients. As with NPs, PAs work in a variety of settings and fill gaps in access to care. They practice using a team-based model. The median annual salary for a PA is $115,390, and an additional 40,100 physician assistant jobs are projected to be created by 2030.

“As a PA for almost 20 years, I know that the dedication it takes to become a PA is well worth it,” said American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) President and Chair of the Board Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA. “PAs are deeply committed to improving the lives of our patients, and we are essential to meeting the growing needs for healthcare in our country.

“Our nation is experiencing a healthcare provider shortage, and this impacts access to high-quality care for patients,” Orozco continued. “The opportunity for PAs has never been greater. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates PA employment to increase 31 percent between 2019 and 2030 – much faster than average. For the fifth year in a row, PA has been named one of the top two healthcare jobs in the country by U.S. News. This underscores the fact that PAs are integral to not only our patients but the future of our nation’s health.”

About 150,000 PAs are practicing in the United States and interact with more than 400 million patients per year, according to AAPA. More than half of PAs work in outpatient offices or clinics, followed by 35.4 percent in the hospital. More than 26 percent of PAs work in surgical subspecialties and 21 percent in primary care.

Find PA locum tenens positions across the U.S.

Staff Care’s 2021 Survey of Locum Tenens Physicians and Advanced Practitioners found that more NPs and PAs are working locum tenens, accounting for 16 percent of providers who worked locum assignments last year, up from 8 percent in 2016.

Physicians and other advanced practitioners recognized

Physicians ranked No. 4 on this year’s U.S. News list of best health care jobs, not including a number of surgical and physician specialty positions which were ranked separately. According to the BLS, physicians enjoy a median income of $208,000 and a projected 4.5 percent employment growth between 2020 and 2030. In that period, an estimated 18,700 physician jobs should open up.

Nurse anesthetists, who administer general and regional anesthesia, came in at No. 8 in this year’s ranking. They earn a median annual salary of $183,580, and the field expects to add 5,600 jobs by 2030.

Nurse midwives, who provide gynecology and childbirth care, came in 24th on the list, earning a median annual salary of $111,130, and the profession is expected to add 800 jobs.

The top 30 jobs in health care

The 2022 rankings for the U.S. News list of the Best Jobs in Health Care are based on a compilation of several factors, including job opportunities, salary, unemployment rates, stress level, and work-life balance.

Here are this year’s top 30 (including a tie):

  1. Nurse Practitioner
  2. Physician Assistant
  3. Speech-Language Pathologist
  4. Physician
  5. Registered Nurse
  6. Respiratory Therapist
  7. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
  8. Nurse Anesthetist
  9. Veterinarian
  10. Physical Therapist
  11. Occupational Therapist
  12. Pediatrician
  13. Optometrist
  14. Anesthesiologist (tie)
  15. Obstetrician and Gynecologist (tie)
  16. Dentist
  17. Psychiatrist
  18. Orthodontist
  19. Chiropractor
  20. Pharmacist
  21. Dietitian and Nutritionist
  22. Audiologist
  23. Radiation Therapist
  24. Nurse Midwife
  25. Prosthodontist
  26. Podiatrist
  27. Surgeon
  28. Esthetician and Skincare Specialist
  29. Rehabilitation Counselor


Find your next job

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Connect with a recruiter to learn more.