NP Salaries Hit a New High
By 2025, an unprecedented supply of nurse practitioners (NPs) will be needed to meet increasing demand for primary care in the United States. In anticipation of this demand, salaries for NPs are skyrocketing.
They have the ability to diagnose and treat illness independently or in a team; to focus on health promotion and disease prevention; to order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests; and to prescribe necessary medications (under conditions varying by state practice authority laws). Nurse practitioners are advanced-practice healthcare providers whose skills will be in high demand in upcoming years. With an aging citizenry, population growth, and an increase in access to primary care fueled by the Affordable Care Act, there is a consensus among experts in the healthcare field: there will be growing demand for NPs over time, and their salaries are also on the rise.
Increasing Demand for NPs
The Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (NCHWA), and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) all predict that demand for nurse practitioners in the coming decade. Specifically, the BLS (Oct. 2017) predicted that between 2016 and 2026, there would be a a 36 percent increase in NP openings nationwide. From a 2016 baseline of 155,500 NPs working in the field, the BLS projected that 56,000 new NP jobs would be created, for a total of 211,500 jobs in 2026.
Increasing Demand for Primary Care Providers
When looking to the future, nurse practitioners are going to be needed more than ever as primary care providers. According to a report released in 2017 by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the demand for primary care physicians in 2030 is going to outstrip supply by anywhere from 7,300 to 43,100. Another projection by the NCHWA predicted an estimated shortfall of 23,640 primary care physicians by 2025.
Many in the medical field are looking to advanced practice healthcare providers like NPs to address the impending shortage. According to KFF, studies show that Nurse Practitioners can manage 80-90 percent of the care usually provided by physicians, and outcomes in primary care provided by NPs and doctors are comparable. In addition, because the average amount of education required to become an NP is five to six years less than becoming a doctor, hiring NPs for primary care can be more cost-effective than hiring a primary care physician.
The need for nurse practitioners in primary care roles will vary by region. According to NCHE, the greatest demand for primary care NPs in general and family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, and geriatrics in 2025 will be in the south. The west will have the second greatest need, followed by midwest, and then the northeast.
Increasing Demand for NPs in Team-Based Medicine
In addition to a rising need for NPs to take the lead in the primary care, there is a growing movement in primary care to switch from patient-centered care to team-based, patient-centered care. In the patient-centered care model, one practitioner establishes a one-on-one relationship with a patient in order to facilitate positive health outcomes. In team-based primary care, two or more practitioners work together as a team to establish relationships and create positive outcomes for the patient. As more medical facilities transition to a model of team-based care because of its positive impact on patient outcomes, more NPs will be needed because of their interpersonal skills and the cost-effectiveness of their employment.
Increasing NP Salaries
Nurse practitioners, depending on speciality, geographic region, and experience can earn between $72,420 and $205,740 per year. The average salary for NPs is between $91,504 and $105,670 per year. Based on the figures for average annual wages earned, NPs make anywhere from 85 percent to 114 percent more than the BLS’s reported average mean wage of $49,360 for all occupations in the US.
Specific agencies report mean annual wage for Nurse Practitioners as follows:
Just as the demand for NPs is rising, so too are salaries. In May of 2013, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for NPs was $95,070. Adjusting for inflation, this puts mean salary growth between 2013 and 2016 at approximately seven percent. In the 2011 AANP National NP Compensation Survey, NPs reported a mean average wage of $94,050. Adjusting for inflation, this represents a four percent mean annual salary growth between 2011 and 2017.
Data in recruiting corroborates the overall trend of salary growth for NPs. In a 12-month period between 2016 and 2017, 137 employers utilized recruiting agency Merritt Hawkins to search for nurse practitioners. Forty-three percent of entities involved in this study were hospitals, and 27 percent were medical groups. The average full time salary offered to Nurse Practitioners between April 2016 and March 2017 was $123,000. In 2011-12, the average salary offer was $105,000. Adjusting for inflation, this represents a 10 percent increase in average base salary offerings over the course of five years.
Highest NP Salaries by State and Region
With the overarching trend being that nurse practitioner salaries are on the rise, earning top salaries depends greatly on where the NP is working. Here are the states and regions where nurse practitioners are earning the highest salaries.
Top Paying States for NPs
Based on 90th percentile wages as reported by the BLS in May of 2016, the following are the ten states where nurse practitioners earn the highest wages:
- $183,590: California
- $164,070: Massachusetts
- $162,410: Wyoming
- $161,350: Alaska
- $159,840: New York
- $159,260: Hawaii
- $154,620: Rhode Island
- $152,030: Texas
- $149,480: New Jersey
- $149,270: Oregon
Top Paying States with the Most Job Opportunities
The following list represents highest paying states with the greatest concentration of jobs available. States are listed from highest job density to lowest job density with their 90th percentile of annual salaries:
- $159,840: New York
- $183,590: California
- $123,900: Florida
- $152,030: Texas
- $125,960: Ohio
- $164,070: Massachusetts
- $126,080: Tennessee
- $125,450: Pennsylvania
- $127,820: Virginia
- $130,340: North Carolina
Top Paying Metropolitan Regions for NPs
Based on 90th percentile wages as reported by the BLS in May of 2016, the following are the top ten highest paying regions in which NPs can work:
- $205,740: San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
- $205,460: Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
- $202,520: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
- $201,480: San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
- $195,240: Central Louisiana nonmetropolitan area
- $194,660: Sioux City, IA-NE-SD
- $193,340: Springfield, OH
- $192,230: Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA Metropolitan Division
- $191,100: Visalia-Porterville, CA
- $188,490: Northwest Alabama nonmetropolitan area
Top Paying Metropolitan Regions with the Most Job Opportunities
The following list represents highest paying regions with the greatest concentration of jobs available. Regions are listed from highest job density to lowest job density.
- $161,560: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
- $166,150: New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
- $169,470: Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH
- $178,190: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
- $170,670: Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division
- $128,520: Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
- $185,050: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division
- $132,530: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
- $139,430: Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
- $129,040: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
A lack of access to primary care in the United States is one of the key reasons why the Commonwealth Fund ranks the U.S. as having the worst healthcare system in the affluent world. Looking to the future, the impending primary care provider shortage indicates that this problem is only to going to intensify, particularly in the South and Midwest.
Given the overwhelming evidence that NPs provide cost-effective, safe healthcare for their patients, it’s time for Oklahoma to disabuse itself of unnecessary practice restrictions so that NPs can help alleviate the looming primary care provider shortage.
Primary care, when accessible and publicized in communities, has been proven to diminish health disparities between social classes. The future of healthcare in the Northwest and all over the country is dependent on the reform insurance systems, policy, and education, among other aspects.
As a shortage of primary care providers looms on our collective horizon, lack of access to primary care has the potential to get much worse. And, unfortunately, the South is going to be the most heavily impacted.
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