Nursing: Facts & Figures

  • Nurses make up the majority of hospital staff and provide more primary care to patients than any other class of healthcare provider.
  • Of all the students in the health professions, over half are nursing school students.
  • The number of nurses working in community healthcare rose almost 15 percent over the last decade. In 2004, about 12 percent of registered nurses worked in an outpatient environment, while 6 percent worked in facilities that provided long-term care.
  • According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), New England has the highest concentration of nurses relative to its population, with 1,107 registered nurses per 100,000 people.
  • The ANA also reports that the majority of nurses are married and over half have children.
  • The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) reported that the average age of a registered nurse in 1980 was 40 years old. 14 years later, the average age was up to nearly 47 years old, a sign that aging nurses will soon face retirement and require replacements.
  • The HRSA estimated last year that the nation's nursing shortage would reach more than one million nurses by the year 2020. They also reported that every state in the country will experience a shortage to some degree by 2015.
  • Did you know that only about 56 percent of nurses work in hospitals? Others are employed in private practices, public clinics, public health organizations, home healthcare services, and numerous other health-related organizations.
  • The typical degree required to enter the nursing profession is the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Other nursing degrees include two- or three-year associate's degree programs.
  • In 1998, nursing schools reported that 77 percent of entry-level BSN graduates were offered employment immediately following graduation. For nurses with master's degrees, this rate was higher at 93 percent.
  • Although the ANA reports that the majority of nurses are female, the ranks of male nurses are increasing, up to about 6 percent in 2004.
  • According to the HRSA, the average annual income of a registered nurse in 2004 was $47,784. Other nursing specialists, such as clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, earn much higher salaries.
  • Did you know that a survey published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 reported that 53 percent of doctors and 65 percent of the public agreed that the shortage of qualified nurses was a prominent cause of medical error?
  • The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported a 7.6 percent increase in enrollment in entry-level BSN programs from 2006 to 2007. Still, this increase is not sufficient to match the projected growth in demand for nurses over the next decade.
  • Did you know that in 2004, the average age at graduation for registered nurses was approximately 30 years old?
  • Registered nurses hold a variety of qualifying degrees. Approximately 18 percent hold a nursing diploma, 34 percent hold an associate's degree, 34.2 percent have a bachelor's degree, and 13 percent hold a master's or doctorate.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing
US Bureau of Labor Statistics
US Health Resources and Services Administration
New England Journal of Medicine
American Nurses Association