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The Southern states: NPs made an impact in rural and healthcare shortage areas

Kippenbrock, Thomas EdD, RN (Professor)1; Lo, Wen-Juo PhD (Associate Professor)1; Odell, Ellen DNP, APRN (Director of Nursing)2; Buron, Bill PhD, APRN, FNP/GNP-BC (Assistant Dean for Nursing)3

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners: December 2015 - Volume 27 - Issue 12 - p 707–713
doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12245

Purpose: To investigate the distribution of nurse practitioners (NPs) in the U.S. Southern region with a focus on rural and underserved areas. Described in this study are the NP characteristics and their workforce distribution relative to rural and health professional shortage areas (HPSAs).

Data sources: Method: A questionnaire was administered to NPs in 12 Southern states. Other data sources included (a) the Health Resources and Services Administration, which identified HPSAs; and (b) data from the U.S. Census Bureau, to distinguish urban and rural areas.

Conclusions: Approximately 72% of NPs worked in HPSAs and less than half of the NPs worked in the rural area. Family NPs were more likely to practice in rural and HPSAs. Employment in primary care was more likely to occur in rural and HPSAs. Racial diversity was almost nonexistent within the NP population.

Implication for practice: This research does demonstrate that NPs are practicing in rural and underserved areas as conceived decades ago, but there is still a great demand and gap to fill. To optimize their effectiveness, NPs need to practice to the full extent of their education. Additionally, more research and strategies to help diversify the workforce is needed.

1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas,

2 John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas,

3 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Fayetteville, Arkansas,

Received 22 September 2014; Accepted 21 January 2015

Correspondence Thomas Kippenbrock, EdD, RN, University of Arkansas, 606 Razorback Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Tel: 479–575–5874; Fax: 479–575–3218; E-mail:

© 2015 American Association of Nurse Practitioners
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