There is a great need for primary care across the country especially in rural and underserved areas. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are filling these access gaps by providing high-quality, cost-effective primary care. However, one rural midwestern state does not address NP workforce data separately from other types of nursing data. In addition, these data are not included in the state's overall primary care workforce. Therefore, the data cannot be compared to the state's needs or national workforce trends.
The purpose of this investigation was to describe North Dakota's (NDs) NP workforce and compare this with national data.
A cross-sectional descriptive design was used to collect and analyze NP workforce data from several sources. State Board of Nursing licensure data were used for description of the NDs current NP workforce. Six other data sources or reports were used to complete the data picture. State information was then compared with national NP survey results.
Both ND and national data sources reported the largest percentage of NPs certified in either primary care or adult care and practice primary care at either an outpatient or inpatient setting. North Dakota has a higher percentage of NPs working in primary care as compared with the national numbers. However, inconsistent categories are used in ND's NP workforce data and national surveys making comparisons difficult.
Implications for practice:
Accurate inclusion of NP workforce data in the overall health care workforce data will better guide state and national policy makers on necessary changes to decrease provider shortages and promote increased access to rural primary care services.