Nursing & Healthcare News

The Nursing State of the Nation

Latest RN demographics

Curious about the demographics of nurses nationwide? HRSA’s latest National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) has the answers, which reveal some important trends in nursing education.

Greater Diversity

Although the NSSRN has been periodically surveying RNs across the country for more than 40 years, it’s been over a decade since the last survey. During that time, HRSA estimates that the total number of licensed RNs in the U.S. has grown 29 percent, to almost 4 million. Of those, an estimated 82.5 percent are currently working in nursing.

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Since 2008, the national nursing workforce has become better educated and more diverse. About 26.7 percent of U.S. nurses are nurses of color, while about 9.6 percent are men. APRNs now account for 11.5 percent of the nursing workforce, a 42 percent increase (3.4 percentage points) from 2008.

Education Trends

The NSSRN results reveal that the era of the diploma-prepared nurse is nearly over. Only 11.4 percent of respondents began their careers with a diploma and a mere 6.4 percent have only a diploma. However, only about 64 percent of RNs have a bachelor’s or higher degree, well short of the Institute of Medicine’s 80 percent target..

Nursing Education

Better news is that almost one-fifth of U.S. nurses (19.4 percent) have graduate degrees. That greater educational attainment is paying off: The survey found that median fulltime income is over $26,000 more a year for RNs with master’s or doctoral degrees than for nurses without a graduate degree.

Download a PDF with the full survey results at bhw.hrsa.gov.


Aaron Severson is a freelance writer, editor, and writing consultant as well as the associate editor of Working Nurse.


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