Best States for Nurse Practitioners and States with Nurse Practitioner Shortages: Where to Work and Why

If you’re considering a career as a nurse practitioner, you may be wondering where the best places are to work. While some states boast high job availability and pay for nurse practitioners targeted at new grads and experienced professionals, others face shortages in this line of work, leaving opportunities for disadvantaged communities that would benefit from access to quality healthcare.

In this article, we’ll explore the top states and regions offering excellent salaries and employment opportunities for NPs and areas with shortages that could use additional qualified personnel. In addition, we’ll look into why certain areas are struggling and what makes these jobs more attractive than other medical careers. Keep reading to learn which places offer top-notch working conditions for healthcare providers.

Understanding the Nurse Practitioner Shortage

Nurse practitioners are essential healthcare professionals who provide primary and specialty care to patients nationwide. However, there is a growing concern about the shortage of nurse practitioners in certain states. So, what exactly is the nurse practitioner shortage, and what are its causes and consequences? Simply put, the shortage refers to the need for more nurse practitioners to meet the healthcare demands of the population.

While factors like retirement and an aging population have contributed to this shortage, increased demand for healthcare services and limited access to education programs have also played a role. Unfortunately, the consequences of this shortage can be devastating – longer wait times for patients, decreased quality of care, and higher healthcare costs. Therefore, it’s essential to identify and support the states with the most opportunities for nurse practitioners to make a difference.

Best States for Nurse Practitioners

Choosing the right state to practice in as a nurse practitioner can make a big difference in your career. From job opportunities to salary, factors like the cost of living and state regulations can impact your experience as a nurse practitioner.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best State to Work as a Nurse Practitioner

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best state to work as a nurse practitioner:

  1. Average Salary: The salary you can earn as a nurse practitioner can vary greatly depending on where you live and work. It’s important to research the average salary for NPs in the state you’re considering to see if it aligns with your expectations.
  2. Job Availability: Some states have more job opportunities for nurse practitioners than others. You can research the number of job openings in your specialty in the state you’re considering to determine if there are enough job prospects.
  3. Work-Life Balance: Work-life balance is an essential factor for many people. Look into the work-life balance culture in the state you’re considering. Do employers offer flexible schedules or remote work options?
  4. Scope of Practice Laws: The scope of practice laws that govern what nurse practitioners can and cannot do vary by state. You’ll want to research the state’s laws to ensure you can practice to the level of your training and education.
  5. Cost of Living: The cost of living can vary greatly between states. Understanding how far your dollar will go in a particular state is important, especially if you’re planning on moving there from a more affordable state.

Top 10 Best States for Nurse Practitioners

  • California
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Washington
  • Maryland
  • Hawaii
  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • Colorado

Advantages of Working in Each State

If you’re a nurse practitioner looking for the best state to work in, you’ll want to check out the top 10 states on this list. Each state offers unique advantages, such as job opportunities, salary ranges, and scope of practice laws. For example, California and New York might be your best bet if you’re looking for a state with high earning potential. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a state with a laid-back culture and beautiful scenery, Hawaii might be the perfect spot. So whether you’re looking for a change of scenery or simply exploring your options, these top 10 states for nurse practitioners are worth considering.

States Experiencing a Shortage of Nurse Practitioners

The healthcare industry faces a shortage of nurse practitioners across the United States. As the aging population continues to grow, the demand for medical services rises, as does the need for qualified health professionals. Let us look at some of the states with nurse practitioner shortage and the reasons behind them.

The Top 10 States Experiencing a Shortage of Nurse Practitioners

  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Nevada
  • Kentucky

Reasons for Nurse Practitioner Shortages in Each State

Here are some of the reasons why the top 10 states listed above are experiencing a shortage of Nurse Practitioners:

  1. Lack of Nurse Practitioner education programs – These states may not have enough educational programs for those interested in becoming Nurse Practitioners, leading to fewer people entering the field.
  2. Scope of Practice Restrictions – In some states, there are restrictions on the types of medical care that Nurse Practitioners can provide, which may discourage them from practicing or make it difficult to find work.
  3. Work Environment – Some states may have a less-than-ideal working environment for Nurse Practitioners, lacking job opportunities or poor workplace conditions.
  4. Compensation – Nurse Practitioners in these states may not be compensated as well as in other states, leading to a smaller pool of qualified candidates.
  5. Rural Healthcare – Rural areas in these states may need help attracting Nurse Practitioners who prefer to work in more populated areas or medical centers with larger staffs.

Steps to Take to Address Nurse Practitioner Shortage in Each State

To address the issue of the growing shortage of nurse practitioners, several steps can be taken at the state level to ensure that patients have access to the care they need.

State Governments

  • Funding of Nurse Practitioner Education Programs: State governments can allocate funds to support the education and training of nurse practitioners. This can include grants to universities and colleges that offer nurse practitioner programs or scholarships to students enrolled in these programs. This step can help increase the number of nurse practitioners in each state.
  • Encouraging Scope of Practice Law Reform: State governments can also enact legislation that allows nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their education and training. This can include granting nurse practitioners more authority to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications, and order and interpret diagnostic tests. More patients can be served in each state by enabling nurse practitioners to provide a broader range of services.
  • Offering Loan Repayment Programs: To incentivize nurse practitioners to work in underserved areas, state governments can offer loan repayment programs that forgive a portion of their student loans for each year of service in these communities. This can help attract more nurse practitioners to areas where they are most needed.

Healthcare Organizations

  • Offering Competitive Compensation Packages: Competitive compensation packages can help attract nurse practitioners to work in your organization. This includes a salary commensurate with experience, benefits that meet or exceed industry standards, and opportunities for professional development.
  • Addressing the Work Environment: Healthcare organizations can evaluate the work environment to ensure that it is conducive to the practice of nurse practitioners. This includes reducing stress, improving morale, providing optimal staffing levels, and creating a culture of collaboration and respect.
  • Recruiting Nurse Practitioners from Other States: Healthcare organizations can recruit qualified nurse practitioners to alleviate the shortage. This can involve partnering with national staffing agencies or providing relocation assistance to candidates.


When finding the best states for nurse practitioners, it’s important to consider a few different factors. You’ll want to look at job availability, average salary, and cost of living. On the flip side, if you’re looking to make a difference in an area with a nurse practitioner shortage, there are plenty of options to choose from. Regardless of where you choose to work, it’s essential to consider your personal and professional goals before deciding.

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Best States for Nurse Practitioners and States with Nurse Practitioner Shortages: Where to Work and Why

nurse practicioner learning about shortages