(HealthDay News) — From 2010 to 2017, there was a substantial increase in the number of nurse practitioners in the United States, with a corresponding reduction in the size of the registered nurse workforce, according to a report published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

David I. Auerbach, Ph.D., from Montana State University in Bozeman, and colleagues examined recent changes in demographic, employment, and earnings characteristics of nurse practitioners in the United States.

The researchers observed an increase in the number of nurse practitioners (from 91,000 to 190,000) during the study period. This growth was observed in every U.S. region and was driven by rapid expansion of education programs attracting nurses in the Millennial generation. The concentration of employment was in hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient care centers. During this period, inflation-adjusted earnings increased by 5.5 percent. The increase in nurse practitioners correlated with a reduction of up to 80,000 registered nurses nationwide.

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“As nurse practitioners continue to expand their profile in health care organizations and achieve greater prominence within the health care workforce, the potential loss of registered nurses to the nurse practitioner workforce is likely to continue to cause employment ripples, particularly in acute care settings,” the authors write.

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