By Carol Davis
The work of nurse practitioners (NP) is being heralded with proclamations and certificates by U.S. governors as they and healthcare providers, policymakers, and patients join the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) in celebrating National NP Week this week, November 7-13, 2021.
NPs provide patients with comprehensive, patient-centered primary, acute and specialty healthcare services in more than 1 billion patient visits each year, according to AANP.
They care changing American healthcare because they’re putting more providers out in the communities, said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of AANP.
“There are 24 states plus Washington, DC, that have full practice authority, meaning the nurse practitioners in those states can practice to the full extent of their education, their clinical training, and their board certification,” she told HealthLeaders earlier this year. “In those states, we have seen that nurse practitioners are five times more likely to work in those rural areas, so it’s a huge step in the right direction for people who have not had access to healthcare.”
The NP role is the fastest-growing healthcare job in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Over the past two years, NPs increased from 270,000 to 325,000 to meet a need, Kapu said.
“We have more than 84 million Americans who lack access to primary care, so about 90% of our nurse practitioners are going into primary care so that they can work in areas that have the greatest need—areas that don’t have a provider. Many times, these are rural areas,” Kapu said. “That’s why we’re seeing big growth; because there is the need, and they are certainly meeting that need.”
National NP Week is celebrating the NP’s role in providing healthcare to those who otherwise might not have it.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NPs have been an unwavering, frontline force, providing tireless service to their patients,” Gov. Ralph S. Northam of Virginia wrote in his certificate.
“NPs provide high-quality primary, acute, and specialty care services while focusing on health promotion, disease prevention, health education, and counseling, guiding patients to make smarter health and lifestyle choices,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote in his proclamation.
For more information on NP Week and this year’s theme, NPs: Going The Extra Mile, visit aanp.org/npweek.
“I am so proud of the 325,000 NPs in the U.S. who put their patients first, always searching for opportunities to improve health outcomes,” Kapu said. “Throughout the many challenges of the pandemic, NPs have remained steadfast and committed to the delivery of accessible, equitable, quality-driven, lifesaving care for our patients.”
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.