Back 10 Highlights of the New Nurse Practitioner Survey

10 Highlights of the New Nurse Practitioner Survey

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Nurse practitioners are making great strides in improving access to high-quality patient care, according to the latest survey by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

“We know nurse practitioners provide quality, cost-effective care, particularly in primary care,” said AANP President Joyce Knestrick, PhD, APRN, CFNP, FAAN.

Approximately 4,350 NPs participated in the 2018 National Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey, answering 122 questions about their practice; the finding were released in late January 2019. Here are a few current facts about NPs that were uncovered from the survey, plus the latest count of nurse practitioners in the United States.


10 findings from the latest AANP survey:

1. The number of nurse practitioners continues upward climb

At the same time AANP released the survey results, they also released their latest estimated count of licensed nurse practitioners. The number of licensed NPs has grown to more than 270,000 as of January 2019, up from 248,000 in March of 2018 and 120,000 in 2007.

“We are excited about the increase in the number of nurse practitioners, because we want a workforce able to care for the aging population we have in the United States,” Knestrick said.

2. The average age of nurse practitioners is 49 years

“We are aging, like every other group,” Knestrick said. Among the NPs surveyed, their average age was 49.

The AANP survey found that more than half of the nurse practitioners were age 50 or older. Among other demographic data, about 87 percent of NPs were white/Caucasian and 91.7 percent were female. 

3. Nurse practitioners are experienced; proportion of new NPs also growing

The AANP survey found on average nurse practitioners have practiced for 10 years, while 42.2 percent have practiced for five years or less, up from 22 percent in 2016.

“We have shown a significant and consistent growth in the number of NPs who have practiced for 10 years or more,” Knestrick said. “They are experienced and providing high-quality care.”

4. Nearly 9 of 10 nurse practitioners practice in non-urban areas

The survey found 89.2 percent of nurse practitioner jobs are in non-urban areas.

“Nurse practitioners are providing a service to low income and underserved populations,” Knestrick said.

The survey found more than 14 percent of nurse practitioners work in communities with fewer than 10,000 people and 5 percent with populations of less than 2,500. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed planned to continue practicing in their community for six or more years.

5. Most nurse practitioners are trained in primary care

“An estimated 87 percent of new graduates are trained in primary care,” Knestrick said. “The number of primary care providers in other disciplines is decreasing, and the number of nurse practitioners increasing.” The survey found that among today’s current NP workforce, 72.6 percent deliver primary care in their main work setting.

6. One-third of nurse practitioners hold leadership positions

Eighty-nine percent of licensed nurse practitioners are working as full-time or part-time staff or faculty, according to the survey. About 14.3 percent held administrative roles in their primary NP practice sites (i.e. director, manager or supervisor) while 20 percent held executive-level positions (i.e., CEO, CNO or owner). Approximately 3.5 percent owned their own practice.

“Most (nurse practitioners) are employed full- or part-time and are continuing to serve people across the country,” Knestrick said.

7. Nurse practitioners are serving patients across the life span

Nurse practitioners have been providing primary, acute and specialty health care to patients of all ages for more than a half century. This year’s survey found that two-thirds of licensed NPs (66.9 percent) are certified in family medicine, 12 percent in adult, 6 percent in adult-gerontology primary care and 4 percent in pediatrics primary care. NPs may be certified in more than one area.

8. Nearly all nurse practitioners have a Medicare provider number
“We are able to bill under Medicare and Medicaid, 85 percent of the physician rate,” Knestrick said. “We can bill under our own provider number, which we encourage people to do.” 

More than 99 percent of nurse practitioners have a Medicare provider number, and about 61.9 percent also are credentialed for many commercial insurance plans.

9. More NPs now have doctorates

The latest survey found that 99.1 percent of nurse practitioners hold graduate degrees, with about 95.2 holding a master’s degree (MSN) and 17.8 percent holding a doctorate degree (DNP). The percent of doctoral-prepared NPs grew from 13.4 percent in 2016.

10. Most NPs are salaried

About 71.6 percent of nurse practitioners were salaried, and 25.7 percent were paid an hourly rate. About 2.7 percent were self-employed.

The average annual base salary for a full-time nurse practitioner, according to the AANP survey, was $105,903, and the average hourly rate was $60.02.

In 22 states and the District of Columbia, members of the nurse practitioner profession have full practice authority. More than a billion patient visits were made to nurse practitioners in 2018.

“[Full practice authority] provides more direct access to primary, acute and specialty care that nurse practitioners provide,” Knestrick said. “We need to continue to reduce barriers.”

10 Unusual Nurse Practitioner Jobs

The 9 Best Things About Being a Nurse Practitioner

LOCUM LEADERS places nurse practitioners, physicians and physician assistants in part-time and full-time locum tenens assignments across the U.S.