Is it time for a new physician specialty?

Is it time for a new physician specialty?

Plus, NP compensation

December 2017
Getty images; AndreyPopov

Is it time for a new physician specialty?

TWO JAMA VIEWPOINT WRITERS argue that a new physician specialty is now emerging: that of medical virtualist. They’re using that term to describe doctors who spend the majority of their time caring for patients via a virtual medium. The viewpoint was posted online in late November.

Technology has often driven specialization, the authors point out, and the use of telehealth is expected to expand 30% every year between now and 2022. Some estimates hold that as many as 50% of physician visits could be virtual encounters, and telehealth is now being used broadly to manage complex chronic illness.

While core competencies of the new specialty need to be developed, the authors write that formal training should include techniques in “webside manner.” Because so many disciplines need medical virtualists, the authors expect there to be subspecialty differentiation, with separate virtualists for urgent care, critical care, neurology and psychiatry.

How much do NPs earn?

Gettyimages; hidesy
Gettyimages; hidesy

A NEW REPORT and infographic points out that while the national median salary for NPs in 2016 was $107,460—which translates to more than $51 an hour—the highest median salary NPs earn is in the hospital setting, at $114,630.

By contrast, the median NP salary in 2016 in outpatient care centers was $107,090 and $105,840 in physician offices. The states with the highest mean salaries for NPs last year were California ($124,330), Alaska ($121,250), Massachusetts ($117,860), Hawaii ($117,180) and New Jersey ($115,230). The report was issued by

As for the highest-paying metropolitan areas, Altoona, Pa., topped the list at $180,520, followed by San Francisco ($158,050). Among non-metropolitan areas, NPs in the border region of Texas earned $161,840 in 2016, while those in northern New Hampshire earned $137,430. Employment for NPs is projected to grow 31% through 2024.

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