An extensive federal survey of nursing trends from 2004 to 2008 shows a growing diversity of backgrounds in an increasing registered nurse workforce.
The report—entitled The Registered Nurse Population: Initial Findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses—also reveals a trend of more highly educated, male, and foreign-trained nurses.
The trends, however, showed dramatic increases among older registered nurses, prompting concerns from officials about retirements impeding the growth of the nursing workforce.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, released the report this month. Published every four years by HRSA's Bureau of Health Professions, the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses is what officials describe as the preeminent source of statistics on trends over time for the nation's largest health profession.
The report also includes comparisons from eight recurring surveys, 1980 through 2008.
The report showed that:
Nearly 45% of RNs were 50 years of age or older in 2008, a dramatic increase from 33% in 2000 and 25% in 1980. "The aging trends in the RN population has raised concerns that future retirements could substantially reduce the size of the US nursing workforce at the same time the general population is growing older and the proportion who are elderly is increasing," the report said.