The number of full-time nurse practitioners per 10,000 residents by U.S. region in 2010 and 2017
The number of nurse practitioners more than doubled from 2010 to 2017, especially in rural areas, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data published in the journal Health Affairs.

In the study period, the number of nurse practitioners in the U.S. went from about 91,000 to 190,000. The growth happened in every U.S. region and was driven by the rapid expansion of programs targeting Millennial registered nurses. The increase in NPs reduced the ranks of RNs by up to 80,000 nationwide, according to the researchers from Montana State University and Dartmouth College.

The increase in NPs has helped fill critical gaps in underserved rural areas that have a hard time attracting physicians. However, since NP programs poach working RNs, hospitals and other health care systems should consider innovative ideas to replace RNs who have left to become NPs, the researchers write.