Physician Staffing Blog

Healthcare News and Trends

A Tribute to NPs During National Nurse Practitioners Week

November 04, 2020

NP Week 2020

By Tom Florence, EVP at Merritt Hawkins

Almost every event has some silver lining if you look for it, and that includes the Covid-19 pandemic.

One positive lesson we have learned is to value our healthcare providers, who put themselves on the line every day to ensure the health and well-being of others.

This certainly applies to nurse practitioners (NPs), who are playing an increasingly important role in meeting the healthcare needs of a growing and aging population. National Nurse Practitioners Week (November 8-14) is an appropriate time to pay tribute to these key care givers.

NPs are advanced practice nurses who have completed a master’s degree or doctoral degree program beyond their initial professional registered nurse (RN) preparation. There are over 260,000 NPs now licensed to practice in the U.S. The great majority of these (87%) practice primary care and may be the first healthcare professionals that patients see when they fall ill. That has certainly been the case with Covid-19. NPs have provided initial examination, testing and diagnosis of many of Covid-19 patients, putting their own health and safety at risk in the process.

In 22 states, NPs practice independently and may be the only primary care providers in traditionally underserved rural areas. In June, 2020 the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released its annual report on physician supply and demand trends. The report projects a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. The AAMC noted in this and previous similar reports that physician shortages would be even more severe if not for the important role being played by NPs nationwide.

The U.S. healthcare system faced major challenges prior to the current pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) six in ten adult Americans have at least one chronic disease such as diabetes while four in ten have more than one. These conditions and others are likely to be exacerbated by the coronavirus which has been particularly detrimental to patients with pre-existing health problems.

Fortunately, the number of NPs is growing, and NPs have the training and, increasingly, the scope to meet these challenges.

Merritt Hawkins would like to thank all of the Nurse Practitioners who are making a vital contribution to the healthcare of millions of Americans. Happy NP week!

Tom Florence is Executive Vice President of Merritt Hawkins, a national physician and advanced practitioner search firm and a company of AMN Heatlhcare. He can be reached at


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