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Nursing workforce report identifies 3 top trends in supply of nurses

BY: Heather Cygan on January 16, 2019

Have you read the latest U.S. nursing workforce report?supply of nurses

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing recently released the results of its 2017 National Nursing Workforce Survey completed in partnership with the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers.

The goal of the survey is to provide a glimpse into the supply of nurses across the U.S. and how to plan for a more educated nursing workforce to care for patients more safely and effectively, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s website.

Quick study facts about nurses who responded to their survey:

  • The study, completed every two years since 2013, collects survey responses from nurses nationwide.
  • The study included 148,684 RNs and 151,928 LPNs and vocational nurses for a total of 300,612 U.S. nurse respondents.
  • The survey ran from Aug. 28, 2017 to Jan. 15, 2018, and nurse respondents had the option to respond via mail or email.
  • Nurses from all age groups, ethnicities and educational backgrounds were included.
  • The average age of nurses who responded to this report is 50 years old.
  • The report found that the LPN/LVN workforce remains more racially and ethnically diverse than their RN counterparts, with 29% identifying as minorities compared to 19% of RN respondents.

Three takeaways about the supply of nurses stood out in the survey results.

#1 Nursing education continues to rise

More RNs have baccalaureate and master’s degrees in nursing — a trend that has continued upward in each biannual report.

Since more RNs are pursuing BSNs as their initial nursing education, 42% reported they obtained the degree before obtaining RN licensure. This is a slight increase (3%) from the 2015 report and a jump of 6% from the 2013 report.

RNs have more extensive educational backgrounds than their LPN/LVN counterparts, of which 83% only earned a vocational/practice certificate when obtaining licensure.

Graduate degrees also are on the rise — 17% of RNs said they have obtained master’s degrees. This is a 3% increase from 2015. RNs who have earned DNPs doubled since 2015. Despite this, only a small percentage of nurses — 1% — have their DNPs overall.

#2 Employment and salary trends in the supply of nurses

Hospitals were the No. 1 employment setting for RNs, with 56% of respondents working at one. This finding is consistent with the 2015 and 2013 reports. The second most populated nurse setting was ambulatory care followed by nursing home/extended care and home health.

Nursing salaries increased the past two years by $3,000 to $63,000 annually when comparing their results to their 2015 report.

This salary range is lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook in 2018, which reported annual nursing salaries at $70,000. Our 2018 Nursing Salaries Research Report also found annual nursing salaries to be higher at $73,633.

#3 Telehealth use is more widespread

More than half — 54% — of RNs who responded to the survey said they have provided telehealth services. There was a 6% increase in the number of nurses who have provided telehealth services across state borders since the 2015 report. Interestingly, 11% of nurses said they have provided remote services to patients in other countries.

Read the full report today

As the nursing workforce continues to evolve, it’s important for recruiters to stay up to date on what these changes mean so you can tailor your recruitment strategies to match nurses’ shifting demographics.

Read the full study, which appeared in the October 2018 issue of the Journal of Nursing Regulation, here.

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Heather Cygan

Heather Cygan is a senior marketing strategist. She was named among the 2018 Top Women in Healthcare Marketing by Digital Megaphone. The recognition honors the work of female marketers leading the way in the healthcare industry. Heather has been developing healthcare content for more than 10 years and has a bachelors of arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University. Connect with and follow her on LinkedIn.