In the U.S., there are approximately 234,000 NPs, and their numbers are growing. Here’s what you need to know about these highly-skilled and adaptable health care providers.
Nurse practitioners are licensed to deliver care consistent with their education and training. State laws and hospital bylaws govern their scope of practice, but in most cases, NPs can diagnose and manage common acute and chronic diseases, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and perform minor procedures.
Approximately 8% of registered nurses (RNs) continue their education to become an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APRN) either through a master’s or doctorate degree. APRNs are Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Nurse Midwives, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners:
- Nearly three in four NPs are accepting new Medicare patients and 77.9% are accepting new Medicaid patients
- Approximately 49.9% of NPs hold hospital privileges; 11.3% have long term care privileges
- 8% of NPs prescribe medications, and those in full-time practice write an average of 23 prescriptions per day
- NPs hold prescriptive privileges, including controlled substances, in all 50 states and D.C.
- The majority (61.4%) of NPs see 3 or more patients per hour in outpatient settings. It is worth noting that the patient to NP ratio in a hospital is determined primarily by the acuity of the patients, but can also be impacted by the setting (academic vs. community hospital) and age of the patient population (neonatal, pediatric, adult, or geriatric.)