As America’s nurse practitioners celebrated the 50th anniversary of their role during 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked NP as the second-best overall job of the year. And we know why.
With an average of more than six years of academic and clinical preparation and preparation at the master’s or doctoral level, NPs are educated and clinically competent to practice in a variety of settings. They have specialized training beyond their initial RN preparation and licensure, and they must pass rigorous national certification. Although more than 80% of NPs work in primary care roles to fill ever-growing needs of national healthcare, their skill set qualifies them to care for patients in all settings. They treat patients with acute and chronic illnesses, perform assessments and evaluations and make diagnoses, coordinate care with other professionals, write prescriptions, and serve as nurse educators for patients and their families.
The nurse practitioner’s approach to care is a holistic one, focused on health promotion and maintenance as well as disease prevention. NPs encourage patients to make better choices in their lifestyles and healthcare. The specialties they work in include primary care, family health, retail health, emergency care and general hospital-based practice, as well as neonatal, women’s health, pediatrics, gerontology, family practice, psychiatric/mental health, oncology, cardiology, surgery and more.
Data released by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners early in 2015 showed the number of NPs licensed in the U.S. nearly doubled over the previous 10 years, rising from approximately 106,000 in 2004 to 205,000 at the end of 2014.
The data also showed more than 15,000 had graduated from NP programs during the 2012-2013 academic year. According to a recent U.S. News & World Report HEALTH letter, the presence of the NP role in our nation’s healthcare is growing, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating there will be approximately 37,000 new NP job openings by 2022.
Other interesting facts from AANP reveal that nearly all (99.3%) are nationally certified, while 44.8% have hospital privileges, and the current national average for an NP’s length of employment is 10 years. NPs hold prescriptive privileges in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In 49 states, they have controlled substance privileges, and 97.2% of NPs prescribe medications in their daily practice.
For 50 years, NPs have been described as safe and cost-effective caregivers, along with practitioners who play a major role in healthcare delivery and fill what would otherwise be gaps in care provision.
AANP President Ken Miller, PhD, RN, CFNP, FAAN, FAANP, describes NPs as “expert and dedicated clinicians.” Earlier this year, David Hebert, the CEO of AANP, said, “Across the country, nurse practitioners are serving as lifelines for patients, many who would otherwise struggle to access care. It is our hope that these patients, as well as their families, employers and legislators, will join us in recognizing and honoring the national nurse practitioner community throughout this milestone 50th anniversary year.”
Nurse practitioners have more opportunities than ever before. Patients benefit from their many contributions every day, and our nation’s healthcare system is fortunate to have them. Congratulations to NPs everywhere on 50 great years!
Education for NPs: 25-hour pharmacology course fulfills new ANCC requirement