Growth of Physicians and Nurse Practitioners Practicing Full Time in Nursing Homes

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021 Dec;22(12):2534-2539.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2021.06.019. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


Objectives: The objective was to describe the growth of physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs) who practice full time in nursing homes, to assess resident and nursing home characteristics associated with receiving care from full-time providers, and describe variation among nursing homes in use of full-time providers.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting and participants: A 20% national sample Medicare data on long-term care residents in 2008 to 2018 and the physicians, NPs, and PAs who submitted charges to Medicare for their care.

Methods: We measured the percentage of provider charges for services rendered in nursing homes, in addition to resident and facility characteristics.

Results: Full-time nursing home providers increased from 26.0% of all nursing home providers in 2008 to 44.6% in 2017. The largest increase was in NPs: from 1986 in 2008 to 4479 in 2017. Resident age, sex, Medicaid eligibility, and race/ethnicity had minimal association with the odds of having a full-time provider, whereas residents with an NP primary care provider were 23.0 times more likely (95% confidence interval = 21.6, 24.6) to have a full-time provider. Residents who received care from both a physician and an NP or PA increased from 33.6% in 2008 to 62.5% in 2018. There was large variation among facilities in the percentage of residents with full-time providers, from 5.72% of residents with full-time providers in the bottom quintile of facilities to 91.44% in the top quintile. Individual nursing homes accounted for 59% of the variation in whether a resident had a full-time provider.

Conclusions and implications: The percentage of nursing home residents with full-time providers continues to grow, with very large variation among nursing homes.

Keywords: Nurse practitioner; long-term care; nursing home; physician assistant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Nurse Practitioners*
  • Nursing Homes
  • Physicians*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States