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AANP Celebrates Nurse Practitioners' Role in Providing Accessible Rural Health Care

NPs are Solution to Primary Health Care Shortages in Rural Areas

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- This National Nurse Practitioner Week (November 10-16, 2019), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) applauds nurse practitioners (NPs) practicing in rural communities and the patients who choose them for their care. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of NPs working  in rural practices increased by 43.2%, according to the journal Health Affairs. NPs now represent one in four health care providers within rural practices. AANP urges all states to allow NPs to practice without barriers and at the top of their education and clinical training, which will further expand NP care in rural areas. 

American Association of Nurse Practitioners (PRNewsfoto/American Association of Nurse P)

"With more than 270,000 NPs practicing nationwide and roughly 30,000 new NPs entering the healthcare workforce every year, NPs are a growing solution to the primary care access crisis –especially in rural communities," said Sophia L. Thomas , DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, President of AANP. "Today, NPs represent one in four providers in rural practices and more in states with full practice laws. States with outdated laws must modernize to allow NPs to practice to the fullest extent of their education and clinical training." The five states with the greatest reported percentage of NPs in rural areas are Vermont (56 percent), South Dakota (50 percent), Wyoming (43 percent), Montana (40 percent) and Maine (39 percent).

Nearly 80 million people live in health professional shortage areas where there are more than 3,500 patients for a single primary care provider. By 2030, it is projected the shortfall of primary care physicians will reach upwards of 49,300 , but the access to care, or lack thereof, will not be distributed evenly. Some communities will have fewer provider choices and longer wait times. Other, smaller communities will have even bigger problems – with potentially no access at all. Patients living in rural communities are five times more likely to live in a shortage area than patients living in urban or suburban areas.

"Nurse practitioners are poised to change the dynamic," said David Hebert , CEO of AANP. "NPs are trained to evaluate and diagnose patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests and prescribe medications in all 50 states. In fact, more than 85 percent of NPs are trained in primary care – the biggest shortage area in rural communities, and are more likely to settle in rural areas."

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 270,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs' patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. For more information and to locate an NP in your community, visit WeChooseNPs.org.

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SOURCE American Association of Nurse Practitioners