Number of nurse practitioners in US hits record high

The number of nurse practitioners in the U.S. reached an all-time high March 20, with more than 248,000 NPs currently licensed to practice across the country, according to data released by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Here are five things to know.

1. The number of U.S. NPs significantly increased since 2007, when there were approximately 120,000 NPs. 

2. An additional 23,000 newly licensed NPs graduated from programs in the 2015-16 academic year, up 3,000 graduates (15.5 percent) from the 2014-15 academic year. 

3. The AANP estimates 85.5 percent of new graduates were trained in primary care. 

4. Roughly 2 out of 3 new NPs entering the workforce graduated from family NP programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the NP profession will have grown by 36 percent by 2026, compared to 37 percent for physician assistants and 13 percent for physicians (excluding anesthesiologists and surgeons).

5. "Provider shortages, especially in primary care, have become a growing concern, but the growth of the NP profession is addressing that concern head-on," said AANP President Joyce Knestrick, PhD. "Couple that with news that NPs conducted an estimated 1.02 billion patient visits last year alone, and it's easy to see why millions of Americans are making NPs their providers of choice."

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