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More Nurse Practitioners Practice in Low-Income Areas, Study Reveals

New research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine has revealed what the nursing community has known for a long time: more nurse practitioners practice in low-income areas than other types of health care providers.

The new study, spotlighted by U.S. News & World Report, has revealed that “physicians, physician assistants and chiropractors tend to practice in more affluent areas with already high life expectancy, while nurse practitioners tend to treat patients in lower income areas with low life expectancy.”

How much of a differential is there exactly? Comparing counties with different economic means, researchers found that areas with the highest income had 30 percent more physicians and 15 percent fewer nurse practitioners than areas with the lowest income. In terms of health need, the counties deemed the least healthy had approximately 50 percent more nurse practitioners than the healthiest counties.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine study provides fresh new evidence suggesting policies like full practice authority could be the key to unlocking the potential of the NP workforce in rural and underserved areas.

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