The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had reported that there were some 140,000 registered nurses (RNs) in our country in 2012. This has been a huge increase since the last count some ten years before. There are a number of reasons as to why this increase took place, and many of these reasons are still true today. Indeed, we can see what some of the future job trends for nurse practitioners are by looking at these growth figures. In addition, a number of new trends have emerged as well.

Let’s take a look at 7 future job trends for nurse practitioners.

#1 – A Lack of Primary Care Professionals

There is a significant shortage of primary care physicians in our country today. As a result, policies and procedures have had to be put in place to give nurses additional responsibilities. This has made the growth over the past ten years possible, and we will continue to see the workforce grow in the future. Nurse practitioners now go above and beyond delivering bedside care, with some being able to order tests, prescribe medication and make other important decisions in terms of patient care and policy development.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

All nurse practitioners will see this increased responsibility as part of their job description. To become a nurse practitioner, you must first become a registered nurse (RN), which is usually done by obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Following that, you will need to study towards your master’s degree. There are also a number of accelerated programs that a person interested in becoming a nurse practitioner can take part in.

Job Growth Trend

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a growth of around 19% in this field by 2020, well above the national average.


The median salary for a Nurse Practitioner is $96,018. Salary is expected to grow by around 19% by 2020, again well above the national average.

#2 – Nurses Are Being Recognized As Key Members of Healthcare

This increase in responsibilities is not solely due to the lack of primary physicians. It is also because nurses are finally getting the recognition they deserve. They are now important members of the healthcare workforce and their role is to deliver patient-centered care that is efficient and cost-effective. Now that nurses are being valued more, the career is becoming more interesting for many people and this is leading to a significant growth in the workforce as well. This trend started some ten years ago and is likely to continue over the following ten years as well.

This trend applies to all nurse practitioners. As such, how to become a nurse practitioner, job outlook and salary are the same as in number one..

#3 – Increased Primary Care Demand

Over the coming years, we will see an even greater increase in primary care demand. The biggest demand is in family care physicians, and they will require nurses on their staff as well. This is why becoming a nurse practitioner in family care is one of the best career choices out there, although oncology nurses will also be in high demand. There has already been a significant increase in nurses in family primary care, as has been reported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. They noted in 2011 that more than half of the current workforce of nurse practitioners is employed in delivering primary care. Another report stated that this was a doubling of figures since the last count in 1995.

How to Become a Family Care Nurse Practitioner

Various universities now offer Master’s Degree programs for nurse practictioners with a family care specialization, many with a online NP option. It is important to search specifically for these programs if that is your intended career choice.

Job Outlook

The growth in demand for family care nursing is expected to surpass the average for nurses and currently stands at 22% by 2020.


The median salary currently stands at $89,960, although it depends greatly on where you work geographically. However, these nurses often work in underserved and rural areas, which means the salaries are often significantly lower. Growth rates are expected to be high, however.

#4 – Increased Demand for Staff in Outpatient Centers

Hospitals are under enormous pressure to have high turnover rates. They now discharge their patients as quickly as they can. However, these same patients will still require a certain level of care, just as they needed in the past. As such, outpatient care is in high demand. A recent survey conducted by Clinical Advisor stated that over a quarter of all nurse practitioners currently work in offices. Nearly 20% worked in independent clinics and another 15% worked in a hospital clinic. Only around 14% actually worked in hospitals. Additionally, the majority of nurses worked at many different locations, mainly due to the fact that many hospitals take on temporary staff.

How to Become an Outpatient Nurse Practitioner

There are various specializations that nurse practitioners can follow in order to become employed in outpatient care. These include adult-gerontology, acute care, critical care and more.

Job Outlook

The projected growth in demand for outpatient care nurses is significant and believed to be around 20%.


The median salary for outpatient care nurses is $89,960. This is believed to be due to the fact that they often work on temporary contracts. Projected growth in salary is expected to be at 19%.

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#5 – More Demand for Nurse Practitioners in Underserved and Rural Areas

Rural areas and underserved areas will require far more outpatient care centers with specialized nurse practitioners. According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, there will be a high demand for the four areas services provided by advanced practice nurse practitioners. These are nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. It is believed that this trend is due to the fact that there are far fewer licensed physicians in such areas. Indeed, there is now a shortage of some 20,000 physicians and this is predicted to increase further.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner for Underserved Areas

One of the best ways to become a nurse practitioner serving in underserved and rural areas is to study towards a public or community health specialization.

Job Outlook

Growth for community and public health nurses is believed to be on trend with the overall nursing average and stands at 19%.


The average salary for a nurse practitioner with a community or public health specialization is $78,000. Growth prediction is pegged at 19%.

#6 – Higher Demand for Academics

One certain trend is that there will be a very high demand in academics over the coming years, in particular nurses who have obtained their Ph.D. This is because the members of the faculty staff are aging and will soon be retiring. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has reported that the average age of a nurse with a Ph.D. in 2011 was 56.4 years. Those who have gone on to become professors are 60.5 years old on averag. Indeed, even those with a Master’s Degree who try to work at the professorial level are 57.7 years old. This demonstrates the incredible need for highly educated nurses, who will be able to take over the roles of educators in the very near future.

How to Become an Academic Nurse Practitioner

In order to become an academic, you will need to obtain your Ph.D. This usually involves a number of years on a research or thesis project, which you will then need to defend.

Job Outlook

The outlook for nurses who have obtained a Ph.D. is incredibly good. Increase in demand is believed to be well above the average and stands at around 25%, mainly because the current workforce are expected to retire soon.


Salary depends on a number of factors but usually starts at around $85,000, which is for an assistant professor. As you work your way up the ladder this can reach as much as $175,000 per year.

#7 – Increased Need for Specialized Knowledge

Finally, there will be a significant increase in the need for specialized knowledge in nursing. The health needs of the population are changing as we are dealing with people who become increasingly old, but who deal with a range of problems such as obesity and obesity-related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes. Additionally, people will require more at-home care, as they try to stay out of the health care system (and the health care system tries to keep them out as well). Diseases are becoming increasingly complex and there are significant concerns about pandemic outbreaks, all of which will require highly specialized knowledge.

How to Become a Specialized Nurse Practitioner

When studying towards a nurse practitioner degree, you will have the option of many different specializations. It is important to consider which area of nursing you are most interested in, particularly since all areas will be in demand.

Job Outlook

The projected job growth for nurse practitioners is, as stated above, around 19%.


The salary you can expect will depend on which area of nursing you are in.

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