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Here’s to nurse practitioners for 50 great years

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.


Eileen Williamson, RN

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!

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By | 2021-05-07T08:41:19-04:00 December 21st, 2015|Categories: Nursing Education|2 Comments

About the Author:

Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN
Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, continues to write and act as a consultant for Before joining the company in 1998, Eileen was employed by North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York (now Northwell Health System) where she held a number of leadership positions in nursing and hospital administration, including chief nurse at two of their System hospitals. She holds a BSN and an MSN in nursing administration and is a graduate fellow of the Johnson & Johnson University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Nurse Executives program. A former board member and past president of the New Jersey League for Nursing, a constituent league of the National League for Nursing, Eileen currently is a member of the Adelphi University, College of Nursing and Public Health Advisory Board.


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    Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA December 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    As the 50th anniversary year winds down I would simply like to echo the words of the above commentary and wish my NP colleagues many more years of success as a profession. Like my profession, NPs are very good people who do great things every day to make our country and our people healthier.

  2. Avatar
    Michelle Karns December 28, 2015 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Thank you for acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the first NP program. Please note, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners merged with the American College of Nurse Practitioners on January 1, 2013, to become the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Dr. Miller is currently the Immediate Past President of AANP. Thanks again.

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