The Nursing Career Process from Application Through the First 2 Years of Employment

The documented current and future shortage of registered nurses (RNs) raises significant concerns about increasing the supply of new graduates from nursing degree programs. Using the best estimates available from nationally representative data, this article describes the attrition process form application to nursing school through the first two years of work.

Key Findings:

  • Most students (76.2%) enrolled in basic RN programs graduate.
  • The majority of RN graduates who pass National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) remain in their first nursing job (73.9%) and nursing (97.9%) for at least two years.
  • Of the 37,208 qualified applicants to baccalaureate programs, 33,321 were enrolled and 3,887 were qualified but not admitted.
  • There were 122,636 qualified applicants to associate degree programs: 85,126 were enrolled; 37,510 qualified applicants were not admitted.

The authors note that room for improvement in the retention of nurses exists, but the issue of getting qualified applicants into programs may require more focus. While the nursing shortage may not be as large as some research estimates, the system needs to focus on qualified applicant acceptance.