A record number of nurse practitioners (NPs) — more than 325,000 — are licensed to practice in the US as of December 2020. “This number underscores the significant contributions that NPs are making to improve the health of our nation,” according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), which released the new national NP count in a press release.

“These 325,000 NPs represent a brighter future for patients and our nation’s health care system. AANP commends all the health care professionals who re-entered the workforce to combat the pandemic and provide vital health care services during these most trying times,” said AANP President Sophia Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP.

Sophia Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC,

To survey the number of NPs, the AANP relied on data collected from each state board of nursing. The organization then reviewed the data for accuracy to ensure that NPs who are licensed in multiple states were only counted once, noted the organization.  

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Prepandemic, “NPs have provided patients with high-quality, comprehensive, patient-centered primary, acute, and specialty health care services in more than 1 billion patient visits each year,” noted the organization.

During the pandemic, NPs have been instrumental in promoting health prevention and annual vaccination in addition to diagnosing, treating, and prescribing for acute episodic and chronic illness. NPs have been at the forefront of setting up mobile clinics for testing COVID-19 patients, conducting door-to-door vaccinations, and reaching underserved communities.    


“NPs have been treating patients with COVID-19 since day 1; we have seen firsthand the adverse impact of this disease on our nation’s minority communities,” said AANP President-elect April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN. “As one community and as one nation, we can increase the vaccination rate and bring an end to this pandemic once and for all. AANP is committed to being part of that solution now and in the months ahead.”

NPs practice in nearly every health care setting, including clinics; hospitals; Veterans Health Administration and Indian Health Services facilities; emergency rooms and urgent care sites; private physician or NP practices. They also act as a key link between health care and social services, often providing information for patients who are facing food and housing insecurities.

“We are always inspired by the stories of our members who are conducting direct outreach in the community, such as working at food banks, shelters, providing health care to homeless populations, and volunteering health services. We have upstreaming as a priority in our organization,” said Andrea Kline-Tilford, PhD, CPNP-AC/PC, FCCM, president-elect of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), during an interview.

“By improving access to care in underserved communities, health professionals —including NPs — can help to address and reverse disparities,” said Dr Thomas in a press release.


American Association of Nurse Practitioners. More than 325,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) licensed in the United States. May 4, 2021. Accessed May 5, 2021. https://www.aanp.org/news-feed/more-than-325-000-nurse-practitioners-nps-licensed-in-the-united-states