How Many Health Care Providers Are in the US? A Close Look at the Numbers

The health care workforce is a vital part of the United States economy and provides essential services to the population. But how many health care providers are there actually in the US? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the latest data and statistics to understand the size and composition of the health care workforce.

Overview of the Health Care Workforce

The health care sector employs millions of workers across a range of occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2022 there were:

  • 20.4 million health care jobs
  • 14.3 million health care workers
  • Health care accounted for 13% of total US employment

The health care workforce can be broadly divided into two categories:

Health Care Practitioners and Technical Occupations

This includes doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, and other provider roles that require specialized training and certification. Examples are physicians, registered nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, medical lab technicians, etc.

Health Care Support Occupations

This encompasses assistive health care roles like medical assistants, home health aides, nursing aides, orderlies, dental assistants, etc. These occupations do not require extensive education or training.

Now let’s look at the provider numbers for some key health occupations in the US.

Number of Physicians

  • There were 933,000 physicians employed in the US in 2022.
  • This includes all medical doctors (MDs) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs).
  • Physicians accounted for 6% of all health care practitioners and technicians.

The most common physician specialties were:

  • General internal medicine – 56,000
  • Family medicine/general practice – 54,000
  • Anesthesiology – 41,000
  • Psychiatry – 38,000
  • Cardiology – 37,000

Number of Nurses

With over 4 million active professionals, nursing is the largest health care occupation in the US.

  • There were 3.9 million registered nurses in 2022. This was the single largest health care occupation.
  • Licensed practical and vocational nurses numbered 588,000.
  • Nurse practitioners totaled 263,000.

The number of nurses is projected to grow by over 200,000 by 2031 to meet rising demand and replace retirees. California and Texas have the most registered nurses among all states.

Number of Pharmacists

  • 375,000 pharmacists were employed in the US in 2022.
  • Most pharmacists worked in drug stores, hospitals, grocery stores, and general merchandise stores.
  • California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania employed the most pharmacists.

Number of Dentists

  • There were 211,000 dentists in the US in 2022.
  • General dentistry was the largest specialty with 125,000 dentists.
  • The next largest specialties were orthodontics and oral surgery.
  • Texas employed the most dentists followed by California, New York, Florida, and Illinois.

Number of Therapists

Therapists provide rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other services.

  • Physical therapists – 274,000
  • Occupational therapists – 149,000
  • Speech-language pathologists – 171,000
  • Respiratory therapists – 140,000
  • Radiation therapists – 25,000

Number of Technicians

Important health care technician roles include:

  • Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians – 333,000
  • Surgical technologists – 114,000
  • Diagnostic medical sonographers – 80,000
  • Radiologic and MRI technologists – 223,000
  • Pharmacy technicians – 355,000

Number of Assistants

Key health care assistance occupations and their numbers are:

  • Nursing assistants – 1.2 million
  • Medical assistants – 541,000
  • Dental assistants – 327,000
  • Physical therapist assistants – 98,000
  • Pharmacy aides – 43,000

Number of Aides

Health care aides help provide basic patient care and assistance:

  • Home health and personal care aides – 2 million
  • Orderlies and psychiatric aides – 139,000
  • Occupational therapy aides – 8,000
  • Physical therapist aides – 47,000

The health sector is projected to continue its rapid growth, adding 2.6 million jobs by 2031. This growth will be driven by America’s aging population and increased prevalence of chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity. A large number of providers will also be needed to replace retiring workers, especially nurses.

Understanding the size and distribution of the health care workforce helps policymakers, health care organizations, and educational institutions plan for future workforce needs and shape training programs. The data indicates where shortages may emerge and which parts of the workforce need to expand capacity to meet national health care demands.

Health Care Workforce Statistics by State

The number of health care providers also varies significantly across different states. Below are some noteworthy state-level statistics:

  • California had the most physicians (115,000), registered nurses (416,000) and pharmacists (44,000) among all states in 2022.

  • New York employed the second highest number of physicians (84,000) and RNs (318,000).

  • Texas had the second highest number of pharmacists (35,000).

  • In 2022, North Dakota and South Dakota had the fewest physicians at just 1,700 each.

  • Wyoming had the smallest number of RNs (8,900) while South Dakota had the fewest pharmacists (1,400).

  • In terms of health care workforce as a share of total state employment, West Virginia had the highest percentage of health practitioners and technicians at nearly 8%.

  • Massachusetts led for health care support occupations at nearly 7% of total state workers.

Understanding health care workforce numbers at the state level provides insights into geographic disparities and gaps. It helps identify states that may be facing shortages and can benefit from programs to bolster their workforce capacity.


The US health care workforce encompasses millions of vital workers who provide diagnostic, therapeutic, assistive, and myriad other services. Nurses, doctors, home health aides, and lab technicians represent the largest occupational groups.

The size, composition, and distribution of the health provider workforce has important implications for health policy and planning decisions. These numbers quantify the total capacity available for delivering care and highlight geographic disparities.

As the US population grows and ages, the demand for health services will continue rising. Tracking the health care workforce and analyzing growth trends will be crucial to ensure there is adequate capacity to fulfill population health needs. A thorough understanding of the numbers and characteristics of health providers can guide efforts to strengthen and optimize the nation’s health care delivery system.

The real reason American health care is so expensive


How many healthcare providers are in the US?

Health care provider demographics research summary. There are over 484,313 health care providers currently employed in the United States. 79.9% of all health care providers are women, while 20.1% are men.

How many people work in the healthcare industry in the United States?

​ Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2022, 14.7 million people age 16 and older were employed in healthcare occupations, accounting for 9.3 percent of total employment. The largest of these occupations was registered nurses, who numbered 3.4 million in 2022, or more than 1 out of every 5 healthcare workers.

How many primary care physicians are there in the US 2023?

According to Kaiser Family Foundation, as of January 2023, there were around 502,217 active PCPs in the U.S. The number of internal medicine physicians was the largest accounting for 205,285 active physicians.

How many general practitioners are there in the US?

After adjusting for these two factors, the number of practicing primary care physicians in the U.S. is estimated to be approximately 209,000.

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