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April Kapu, RN, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, discusses recently released data showing the role of the nurse practitioner is ranked number one among health care jobs.
Contemporary Clinic interviewed April Kapu, RN, a professor at Vanderbilt University; acute care nurse practitioner based in Nashville, TN; and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), on the future of the nurse practitioner workforce amid growth in the field and simultaneous extreme fatigue and stress among health care workers.
Alana Hippensteele: Hi, I’m Alana Hippensteele with Contemporary Clinic. Joining me is April Kapu, RN, a Vanderbilt professor; acute care nurse practitioner based in Nashville, TN; and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, or AANP, which represents over 350,000 nurse practitioner, who is here to discuss the future of the nurse practitioner workforce amid simultaneous growth in the field and extreme fatigue and stress among health care workers following the COVID-19 pandemic.
So April, AANP recently released data on the role of the nurse practitioner being ranked the number 1 health care job—what is the basis of AANP’s data presenting this ranking, and why do you think the profession is so highly ranked?
April Kapu: Well AANP released the data really pointing to the 2022 US News and World Report's data on their top jobs. So among overall jobs, nurse practitioners were ranked number 2, but in health care jobs, they were ranked number one. And there's a lot that goes into that ranking. They review lots of different professions, as you know, but they look at things like median salary, growth projections, opportunities for jobs out there, opportunities for landing jobs, and satisfaction in those roles. So there are a lot of different factors that play into these rankings.
We were very pleased, and I am so happy that the American Association of Nurse Practitioners really jumped on that early because it really does say a lot about our growth as a profession, and what we're doing out there. We're certainly stepping up to meet a tremendous need in health care today.
Alana Hippensteele: Absolutely. How has the nurse practitioner workforce numbers been impacted by the strains of the pandemic and have these numbers started to return to pre-pandemic levels yet?
April Kapu: Well, actually Alana, before the pandemic, we were at about 270,000 nurse practitioners across the United States. We have been growing at a rate of 9% to 10% per year. So we're now at about 355,000 employees across the United States, and I think what's really happened is the pandemic has spotlighted what was already there—that we have a tremendous need in health care and that there are over 91 million Americans that lack access to primary care. Nurse practitioners are highly qualified professionals, and they're really increasing in number to meet that need. We are seeing more and more nurse practitioners moving into primary health care spaces and other settings to meet that need, and we see more and more consumers, more people across the United States choosing to see a nurse practitioner as their regular health care provider.