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AANP: Five Health Care Trends to Watch in 2022

NPs in Clinic

Nurse Practitioner Profession Is Growing; Access to NP Care Is Making States Healthier

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Nurse practitioners (NPs) are trusted health care providers. They are on the forefront of education and innovation of new and effective models of care, promoting health and ensuring patients have access to the highest quality health care. As the NP profession looks ahead, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) has identified five key health care provider trends to watch.

“As we prepare for the year ahead, it is clear patient demand for high-quality NP care will only continue to grow — with NPs topping the list of the most in-demand health professionals of the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of AANP.

“NPs will continue to deliver care in nearly every health care setting, including homes, hospitals, clinics and, increasingly, via telehealth — a reflection of the exponential rise of virtual care. As part of their commitment to primary and preventive care, NPs will remain at the forefront of COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination, while working to address other pressing health care issues,” said Kapu. “States that provide patients with full and direct access to NP care consistently rank among the healthiest in the nation, while those restricting patient choice and access to NP care rank among the least healthy nationwide. In the coming legislative session, with strong support from policy organizations including the National Academy of Medicine, we predict a tipping point where states will remove regulatory barriers that limit patient access to NP care.”

  1. Demand for NPs Will Continue to Grow — Health care providers are in demand, and NPs are among those who top the list for the fastest-growing health care jobs of the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are currently more than 325,000 licensed NPs in the United States conducting more than 1 billion patient visits annually, and the NP profession has a projected growth rate of more than 45% in the years ahead.
  2. States With the Best Overall Health Give Patients Direct Access to NPs — The 24 states that offer patients full and direct access to NPs, authorizing NPs to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training, correspond to the United Health Foundation’s 2021 rankings of the overall healthiest states — including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, Hawaii, Connecticut and others in the top 10. Among the least healthy states overall, the top slots are held by states with restricted access to NPs.
  3. Access to Adequate Primary Care Will Be Challenging Without Changes — According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 80 million Americans lack adequate access to primary care, and shortages are more severe in rural areas. However, 89% of NPs are trained to deliver primary care — meeting the need for primary care at this critically important time. NPs represent 1 in 4 primary care providers in rural practices, and more in the 24 states that allow them to practice to the fullest extent of their education and clinical training.
  4. NPs Will Continue to Treat COVID-19 and Vaccinate Patients as the Pandemic Persists — NPs have played a significant role in providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their contributions will multiply as the fight against this virus enters its third year. According to an AANP survey of NPs, more than 60% of respondents had treated or were treating COVID-19 patients in June 2020, and they were offering testing and vaccinations at their practices. NPs continue working to fight COVID-19, and they are providing care for communities where the pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact. Consistent with AANP’s long-standing call for expanded access to health care providers in every state, especially in underserved communities, NPs are actively treating and vaccinating patients against COVID-19 in communities with the greatest need.
  5. Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Sharply Increased During the Pandemic, and NPs Are Needed to Help Treat Patients — NPs are on the front lines of combating the OUD epidemic in the United States, a crisis that has significantly worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and that is now at unprecedented levels. As of May 2021, more than 22,000 NPs are authorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) — with the number of NPs waivered to prescribe MATs doubling between 2019 and 2021. It’s time for states to modernize outdated laws and enable patients to access NPs and this critically needed care.


The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 325,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs' patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate an NP in your community, visit For more information about NPs, visit For COVID-19 information from AANP, visit