New Data: Nursing Profession Is Bigger, More Diverse, Better Educated
A report released Monday by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) indicate that efforts to grow and diversify the nursing workforce are showing results—a welcome finding given the looming shortage of nurses and primary care providers in general.
According to the data from HRSA's National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, the nursing profession grew substantially in the 2000s, adding 24 percent more registered nurses (RNs) and 15.5 percent more licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Significantly, the growth in the supply of nurses outpaced growth in the U.S. population, with the number of RNs per capita growing by about 14 percent and the number of LPNs per capita increasing by 6 percent.
The "pipeline" carrying nurses from school to the workforce also expanded during the past decade. The number of would-be nurses who passed national nurse licensing exams to become RNs more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, while the number of LPN test-passers grew by 80 percent. Significantly, the share of licensure candidates with bachelor's degrees increased during that time, as well.
The profession also is growing more diverse, according to the data. Non-white RNs are now 25 percent of the profession, up from 20 percent 10 years ago. Nine percent of RNs are men today, up slightly from 8 percent at the beginning of the decade.