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PAs and NPs Spend Much Less Time with Patients than They Want— Here’s Why

Many clinicians choose not to pursue an MD because they want to focus on caring for patients above all else. But it turns out deciding to become an advanced practice nurse or physician assistant doesn’t guarantee you’ll spend as much time with patients as you want.

Florence Health recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 members of our community and found that, on average, nurse practitioners and physician assistants spend a little more than half their workday with patients — about 54 percent. In an ideal world, that number would be about 68 percent, respondents told us.

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What fills the rest of the day? About 24 percent is patient-related tasks, such as ordering prescriptions and tests, updating info and prepping for visits. Next comes administrative work, like updating medical records and contacting insurance companies, which takes up about 13 percent of the day time. Conferring with physicians and other members of a patients’ care team comes in at about 7 percent.

Unfortunately, most of these percentages don’t match up with what HCPs would spend on each activity in an ideal world. Every chunk of the day — except time with patients and consulting with the healthcare team — would be much smaller to make more time for patients.

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Breaking down time with patients, our survey also found that the average NP and PA sees about 19 patients and has 13 interactions with family members and caregivers a day. About 90 percent of respondents told us they operate autonomously when making treatment decisions, and about 86 percent said they are the one who diagnoses the patient. Only 20 percent of NPs and PAs felt there was a communication gap physicians and the rest of the healthcare team.

Does this reflect your experience as an NP or PA? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below or shoot us a note at

Last updated on 10/2/19.

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