In the last two years, the number of NPs has doubled, and today, more than 270,000 practice across the U.S. The sharp increase in NPs can be attributed to soaring confidence patients and health care systems place in NP-provided care. Last year, patients elected to see an NP for their care in more than 1 billion visits.
NPs have worked to earn the trust of patients. Countless studies have shown that the outcomes of care are similar between NPs and physicians — and in some cases, patients do better with an NP as their provider. Seeing an NP for care has been tied to higher rates of patient satisfaction, more health counseling, added focus on prevention, improved communication, greater follow up, fewer emergency room visits and more time spent with patients. Even more telling, states that authorize Full Practice Authority for NPs have decreased hospitalizations and produced better patient outcomes for Medicare and Medicaid patients, an important distinction as our population ages.
The rise of NPs comes at an important time. Our nation faces a growing demand for health care services. Every day, more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65, and six in ten adults have at least one chronic disease. The need for primary care has never been higher. Already, 80 million Americans live in a Health Provider Shortage Area (HPSA), and rural residents are five times as likely to suffer from lack of access to a quality health care provider.
While NPs provide a significant boost to the health care provider workforce, it is not a sheer numbers game. Approximately 87% of NPs are certified in an area of primary care, and they are likely to go where the need is: rural and underserved areas, our most critically underserved communities. Right now, NPs account for one in four providers in rural areas, and as states adopt modernized licensure laws, that number will increase.
There is no question that access to NP-provided care translates to better patient outcomes. NPs continue to pioneer innovative ways to bring health care closer to patients and press for changes in health care policy that make the health care system work better for patients. As state practice environments continue to evolve to meet patient demand and respond to patient choice — NPs will play an even more critical role in partnering with patients and improving our nation's health.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) commends the NPs of today, and tomorrow, who work tirelessly for better health and thanks the patients who choose NPs every day.
NP Week is held each year in November to celebrate NPs as exceptional health care providers and to remind policymakers of the importance of removing outdated barriers to practice so that NPs will be allowed to practice to the full extent of their experience and education. Together, we can expand access for all patients by granting America’s 270,000 NPs Full Practice Authority.
This week is the perfect time to join AANP in celebrating more than 50 years of the NP role! Get involved by: