The role of nurse practitioner (NP) has its roots in the shortage of qualified healthcare service providers that took place in the mid-1960s. By the early 1970s, the federal government began allocating funds to increase NP training across the US and soon more than 500 certificate programs were established to prepare nurses for primary care positions. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, NPs were practicing in every state and currently there are more than 205K NPs licensed in the US.
These healthcare professionals work in a number of different settings, and the demand for NPs is increasing at a steady pace. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the numbers behind this role that has gone from obscurity to ubiquity in less than 50 years.
As an occupation with a high median wage and a job outlook that is significantly above average (31% estimated growth from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), NPs have a bright future. However, the fact that this role requires a graduate degree as well as previous healthcare experience may be prohibitive for some, and the extended hours and dedication to patient health are not for everyone. If you are considering long-term career options and think becoming an NP may be right for you, research opportunities in your area and contact nearby schools to learn more about their individual training programs.
AANP – NP Facts
MedlinePlus – Nurse Practitioner
Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council – Nurse Practitioner History