Nurse Practitioners in High Demand Through 2031
New data shows a striking upsurge in job prospects for nurse practitioners. The 10-year projections suggest that job growth for nurse practitioners will outpace most other healthcare professionals, including registered nurses.
Moreover, the healthcare system won’t see an end to the factors that are contributing to the demand anytime soon. As a result, the increasing need for nurse practitioners may continue into the next decade. If you’ve seriously considered taking steps in your career to become a nurse practitioner, now is a great time to make the move.
Job Growth for Nurse Practitioners
In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released updated employment data including national projections for 2021-2031. The report shows that overall employment for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is projected to grow 45 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Specifically, NPs are expected to grow by 52% which is substantially higher than other APRN roles.
Trends for Nurse Practitioner Job Growth by State
In some regions, nurse practitioner jobs are increasing faster than in others. Factors such as geography and access to healthcare affect the demand. All states will see a growing need over the next decade. You can see the projected job growth by state below:
- Alabama 24%
- Alaska 9%
- Arizona 51%
- Arkansas 32%
- California 31%
- Colorado 45%
- Connecticut 21%
- Delaware 31%
- District of Columbia 24%
- Florida 37%
- Georgia 41%
- Hawaii 24%
- Idaho 24%
- Illinois 31%
- Indiana 29%
- Iowa 30%
- Kansas 18%
- Kentucky 22%
- Louisiana n/a
- Maine 21%
- Maryland 35%
- Massachusetts 16%
- Michigan 16%
- Minnesota 23%
- Mississippi 7%
- Missouri 30%
- Montana 27%
- Nebraska 20%
- Nevada 37%
- New Hampshire 30%
- New Jersey 29%
- New Mexico 28%
- New York 41%
- North Carolina 30%
- North Dakota 31%
- Ohio 25%
- Oklahoma 19%
- Oregon 32%
- Pennsylvania 27%
- Puerto Rico 31%
- Rhode Island 14%
- South Carolina 26%
- South Dakota 27%
- Tennessee 35%
- Texas 32%
- Utah 34%
- Vermont 16%
- Virginia 31%
- Washington 29%
- West Virginia 25%
- Wisconsin 23%
- Wyoming 30%
Factors Driving the Demand for Nurse Practitioners
Many factors contribute to the increased demand for nurse practitioners.
- The “Graying” Population and Life Expectancy
The term “Graying of America” refers to the fact that the US population is steadily becoming more dominated by older people. The Baby Boomer generation is aging, and adults are living longer. In fact, the number of Americans over age 85 will quadruple by 2040.
As these numbers rapidly rise, it will be difficult to keep up with the demand for healthcare providers. Chronic illnesses afflict nearly half of Americans, and just under one quarter have five or more chronic conditions. Survey data from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners demonstrate that NPs care for many older people and people with chronic, multiple disease processes.
- The Physician Shortage
The healthcare system is experiencing a shortage of physicians, too. A recent report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians over the next decade. Nurse practitioners will undoubtedly help fill that gap.
Currently, nurse practitioners hold prescriptive privileges in all 50 states. However, the scope of practice for nurse practitioners still vary by state.
- The Growing Emphasis on Preventative Care
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 enacted many changes to the healthcare system to promote preventative care. Lawmakers asserted that high-quality care to avoid or delay disease would reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of life. This focus on preventative care creates an ongoing demand for primary care providers and practitioners to treat injuries and illnesses.
The ACA also extended health plans to millions of previously uninsured individuals. As of 2021, roughly 31 million individuals gained access to Medicaid or were able to purchase insurance coverage from the Marketplace.
Individuals who put off going to the doctor in the past have greater access to care than ever before. So-called “retail clinics'' are popping up at grocery and drug stores, like CVS’s Minute Clinic. Nurse practitioners are equipped to carry some of the burdens these changes have placed on the healthcare system.
These changes in the healthcare system and the American population will create a long-lasting demand for nurse practitioners. So, for those who want to respond to the call, here are the steps to take now.
Next Steps for Nurses Interested in an NP Degree
The state of the industry will likely encourage practicing nurses to explore nurse practitioner degree programs. Here are the next steps for nurses interested in taking their careers to the next level.
- Prerequisite education. To begin a nurse practitioner program, a nurse must have a registered nursing license and a bachelor’s degree. With those prerequisites, they can apply to nurse practitioner school. Nurses who do not hold a bachelor’s degree should complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree as the first step toward nurse practitioner certification.
- Gain experience. Most nurse practitioner programs require applicants to have 1–2 years of experience as a registered nurse. New graduates should spend time practicing in their desired specialty area to get the experience they need for their nurse practitioner degree.
- Earn a nurse practitioner degree. After gaining the required education and experience, nurses should choose a master’s or doctorate program in their specialty. Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees take at least two years to complete and require 500 clinical practice hours with a preceptor. Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) programs may take four or more years and require 1000 clinical hours.
- Pass the nurse practitioner examination. Graduates from nurse practitioner programs have one last step. To become a certified nurse practitioner, the nurse must pass a credentialing examination in their specialty area. The certification exams available for nurse practitioners include:
Through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC):
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC)
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)
Through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB):
- Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (A-GNP)
- Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN):
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNPC-AG)
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNPC-Adult)
Through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB):
- Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC)
- Primary Care Certified Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC)
Through the National Certification Corporation (NCC):
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP-BC)
- Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC)
After passing the certification exam, nurse practitioners can apply for a license to practice in their state.
Becoming a nurse practitioner is a great option for registered nurses because the demand is projected to increase by 30-50% over the next decade.
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