Jan 24, 2020

Newly Released Survey Data Show Nurses More Diverse, Better Educated

Newly released data from the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN), the longest running survey of registered nurses in the U.S., shows nursing is more diverse and better educated than a decade ago. A brief summary of findings were published in mid-January.

Conducted by the Health Services Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the NSSRN is considered the “gold standard” for nursing workforce data (Auerbach, Staiger, Muench, & Buerhaus, 2012). It was last conducted in 2008.  Data from the NSSRN surveys are available for download.

The findings show nurses are more diverse today in race, ethnicity and gender than in 2008.

As shown in Table 1, the percentage of the RN workforce that is Hispanic has almost tripled, from 3.6 percent to 10.2 percent.  There has also been a notable increase in the percent of black RNs and a decrease in the percent of white RNs in the past decade.

Table 1

Adapted from 2018 NSSRN Summary Report Figure 2 Distribution of RNs by Race and Ethnicity (page 5 of 13) and the 2008 NSSRN Findings Figure 7-5 Distribution of registered nurses and the U.S. population, by racial/ethnic background (page 181 of 359).

Table 2 shows that RNs who have bachelor and higher degrees has increased from 50 percent in 2008 to 64 percent in 2018.  Although it is unlikely that 80 percent of RNs will have bachelor and higher degrees by 2020, the extensive efforts of the Campaign for Action have contributed to this large increase.

Table 2

Highest Education Attainment 2008 and 2018

Adapted from 2018 NSSRN Summary Report Figure 6 Highest Nursing and Nursing-Related Educational (page 6 of 13) and the 2008 NSSRN Findings Figure 2-4. Highest nursing or nursing-related education preparation, 1980-2008 (page 60 of 359)

In addition:

  • Male RNs in 2018 represented 9.6 percent of the nursing population, up from 7.1 percent in the 2008 study.
  • An estimated 3,957,661 licensed registered nurses live in the U.S., up nearly 30 percent from 2008. About 83 percent of those nurses held a nursing-related job in 2017.
  • The average age of a RN was 50 years old, but most nurses (53 percent) were under 50.
  • Median earnings for full-time RNs were $73,929, while part-time RNs earned a median amount of $39,985.
  • Advanced practice registered nurses account for about 11.5 percent of the nursing workforce.
  • Telehealth capabilities were reported in nearly 33 percent of nurses’ workplaces. Among them, 50.3 percent of nurses used telehealth in their practice.