Feb 5, 2020 - Health

The booming demand for nurse practitioners

Nurse Practitioner doing a heath checkup in Denver, Colorado
A nurse practitioner doing a heath checkup in Denver, Colo. Photo: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The demand for nurse practitioners has exploded recently.

By the numbers: The number of nurse practitioners more than doubled from 2010 to 2017, far outpacing the number of new doctors or registered nurses, according to a study published this week in Health Affairs.

  • Less than 1% of NPs are unemployed, the study found, and most of them have seen steady wage growth.

Why it matters: These changes are a reflection of broader shifts within the health care system — most notably, the shift from inpatient to outpatient care.

  • RNs are now typically leaving inpatient hospital settings earlier in their careers to get the advanced training to become and NP and move to an outpatient setting, the study says. Although the authors don't expect that to lead to "deep and prolonged" RN shortages, it's still a strain on the inpatient workforce.

What's next: Nurse practitioners are providing a lot more care — the number of Medicare beneficiaries billed by a nurse practitioner has doubled. And that trend will continue.

Go deeper: Health care has been adding jobs for over 5 years

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