Locums Specialty Spotlight: 50 Years of Nurse Practitioners

Locums Specialty Spotlight: 50 Years of Nurse Practitioners

Happy National Nurse Practitioners Week, and congratulations to nurse practitioners everywhere for celebrating 50 years of service! Everyone at Staff Care would like to thank you for all your dedication, and the hard work you put in every day. To celebrate this major milestone for this profession, we want to take a look back at the history of nurse practitioners and revisit some of the accomplishments of the past 50 years.

A Brief History of Nurse Practitioners in the United States

As most readers of this blog probably know, an NP is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who has completed graduate-level education. NPs treat physical and mental conditions through physical exams, comprehensive evaluation of medical history and ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests.Facts about Nurse Practitioners: An Infographic from Staff Care

In 1965, Loretta Ford and Henry Silver, a nurse and a physician, created the first training program for nurse practitioners. With Medicare and Medicaid programs now providing health care coverage to low-income women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, physicians were unable to meet the increased demand for core, and nurses became the answer to improving healthcare delivery.

The curriculum for these early training nurse practitioners focused on health promotion, disease prevention, and the health of children and families. By 1973, there were already 65 NP programs developed in the United States and 15,000 working NPs.

Although the number of nurse practitioners grew at a steady pace, this isn’t to say that they were without hardships. Over the years, NPs have had to fight for their independence.

One of the biggest challenges faced by nurse practitioners in their early years was the struggle to legitimize their profession and earn provider status. Without provider status, nurse practitioners weren’t seen as an autonomous healthcare position and therefore had to be reimbursed via a paycheck from a physician or hospital.

Eventually, as a result of NPs uniting to fight for reimbursement rights, President Bill Clinton granted Nurse Practitioners direct reimbursement through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

205,000+ NPs Nationwide (and Counting)

Today, nurse practitioners hold prescriptive privilege in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (and controlled substances privilege in all but one state). Additionally, 45% of NPs hold hospital privileges, and the majority (69.5%) of NPs sees three or more patients every hour.

There are currently more than 205,000 nurse practitioners licensed in the U.S., estimates the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), with around 17,000 new NPs completing their academic programs yearly. A huge majority (almost 97%) maintains national certification; 86.5% of NPs are prepared in primary care.

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, which expanded access to healthcare services to many more Americans, the demand for nurse practitioners will only continue to grow. During Nurse Practitioner Week, we wish to thank all of these hard-working individuals for dedicating their lives to helping others. Your work is greatly appreciated by patients all over the country!

Have an NP Story to Share? #NPimpacts

Over the next week, Staff Care will be offering testimonials and social media posts highlighting the important role of NPs in today's healthcare industry. If you’re an NP, or someone who knows one, please share why you think they make a difference. Tag #NPimpacts and help show some appreciation to all the fantastic nurse practitioners out there.

If you're a nurse practitioner seeking new opportunities, we encourage you to reach out to us. We'll put you in touch with a knowledgeable, seasoned recruiter who can help you sort through our nationwide listing of locum tenens nurse practitioner jobs to find the opportunity that suits meets your goals and preferences. Remember, you're in demand! Contact us today to find your next NP assignment with Staff Care.

Join our social network! You can find Staff Care on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and YouTube.


  1. All About NPs: NP Fact Sheet. American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Retrieved from https://www.aanp.org/all-about-nps/np-fact-sheet
  2. History of Nurse Practitioners in the United States. Simmons School of Nursing and Health Services. Retrieved from https://onlinenursing.simmons.edu/nursing-blog/history-nurse-practitioners/

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