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AANP Foresees Five Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2022

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   January 06, 2022

Nurse practitioners will be at the forefront of pressing healthcare issues, American Association of Nurse Practitioners predicts.

As the fast-growing NP profession looks ahead, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) has identified five key healthcare provider trends to watch over the next year. 

1. Demand for NPs Will Continue to Grow

NPs are among those who top the list for the fastest-growing healthcare jobs of the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 325,000 licensed NPs in the United States conduct more than 1 billion patient visits annually, and the NP profession has a projected growth rate of more than 45% in the years ahead.

2. States With the Best Overall Health Give Patients Direct Access to NPs

The 24 states that offer patients full and direct access to NPs, authorizing NPs to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training, correspond to the United Health Foundation's 2021 rankings of the overall healthiest states.

Among the least-healthy states overall, the top slots are held by states with restricted access to NPs.

3. Access to Adequate Primary Care Will Be Challenging Without Changes

More than 80 million Americans lack adequate access to primary care, and shortages are more severe in rural areas, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With 89% of NPs trained to deliver primary care, they are meeting the need for primary care at this critically important time.

NPs represent 1 in 4 primary care providers in rural practices, and more in the 24 states that allow them to practice to the fullest extent of their education and clinical training.

4. NPs Will Continue to Treat COVID-19 and Vaccinate Patients as the Pandemic Persists

NPs' significant role in providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic will multiply as this virus enters its third year. More than 60% of respondents to an AANP survey of NPs had treated or were treating COVID-19 patients in June 2020, and they were offering testing and vaccinations at their practices.

5. Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Sharply Increased During the Pandemic, and NPs Are Needed to Help Treat Patients

As of May 2021, more than 22,000 NPs are authorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT), with the number of NPs waivered to prescribe MATs doubling between 2019 and 2021.

NPPA is calling for states to modernize outdated laws and enable patients to access NPs and this critically needed care.

"As we prepare for the year ahead, it is clear patient demand for high-quality NP care will only continue to grow," said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of AANP.

"NPs will continue to deliver care in nearly every healthcare setting, including homes, hospitals, clinics and, increasingly, via telehealth—a reflection of the exponential rise of virtual care," Kapu said. "As part of their commitment to primary and preventive care, NPs will remain at the forefront of COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination, while working to address other pressing healthcare issues."

“As we prepare for the year ahead, it is clear patient demand for high-quality NP care will only continue to grow.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


Demand for nurse practitioners will continue to grow.

States that provide patients with direct access to NPs have the best overall health.

NPs are needed to help treat the growing Opioid Use Disorder epidemic.

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