April Kapu, DNP, a professor at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, an acute care nurse practitioner, and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, discusses the future of the nurse practitioner field amid widespread health care staffing burnout.
Contemporary Clinic interviewed April Kapu, DNP, a professor at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, an acute care nurse practitioner based in Nashville, TN, and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, on the future of the nurse practitioner workforce amid health care staffing burnout and the extreme fatigue and stress of the pandemic.
Alana Hippensteele: So, April, what has happened to the field of nurse practitioners during the pandemic due to the increased need for health care practitioners in the workforce?
April Kapu: Yes, so I have to say before the pandemic even happened that there are over 80 million Americans that lack access to care. So, about 90 of the 325,000 nurse practitioners that we have today are primary care educated, clinically trained, and board certified, and so we are seeing more nurse practitioners moving out to rural areas—certainly work in urban areas, in all communities across all settings—but we are seeing a lot more nurse practitioners move out to rural areas to provide that much needed access to care.
Nurse practitioners are very focused on equitable care, high quality care, and affordable care, and I think that's philosophy of nursing. If you've met a nurse, they're very focused on holistic care, comprehensive care, and making sure that they're attending to all of your different needs, and they're very attuned to social determinants of health—everything that goes into your health care—so that you're engaged and empowered to take control of your health.
Over the last 2 years, just before I moved into my presidency about 2 years ago, we were at about 270,000 nurse practitioners. Now, we're up to over 325,000 nurse practitioners across the US. I don't know if you've seen the latest US News & World Report, but in terms of health care jobs, nurse practitioner is number one—so we are in very high demand.