Nurse Practitioners by the Numbers

By Freddie Rohner, iHire
Group of nurse practitioners smiling for the camera

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.

  • The average NP is 49 years old, has been practicing for 10 years, and has a full-time base salary of $97,083 as of 2015.
  • 95.1% of NPs have graduate degrees and 96.8% hold national certification.
  • NPs have prescriptive privileges in all 50 states (and Washington, DC). 97.2% prescribe medications and NPs in full-time practice write an average of 21 prescriptions per day.
  • 86.5% listed a primary care focus in a variety of specialties including adult, family, gerontology, pediatric, and women’s health.
  • As of 2014, 7.7% of NPs were male (an increase from 5.4% in 2003).
  • The top three practice settings as identified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioner’s (AANP) 2013–2014 Practice Site Census were private physician practice (22%), hospital outpatient clinic (13.2%), and community based primary care (10.9%).
  • The top five primary specialties among NPs (according to the same 2013–2014 AANP Practice Site Census) were family (54.5%), adult (19.3%), acute care (7.5%), pediatric (5.3%), and women’s health (4.9%).

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

AANP – 2013–2014 National Nurse Practitioner Site Census

MedlinePlus – Nurse Practitioner

Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council – Nurse Practitioner History

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