If you’re considering a career in nursing or are interested in making a career move, the National Nursing Workforce Survey (NNWS) can be a useful tool for tracking demographics and trends.
The survey, a biennial project of the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, is a national study that in 2017 drew responses from 48,704 registered nurses (RNs) and 40,272 licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs).1
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“Knowledge of the supply of nurses can be used to predict possible shortages and assist in the allocation of resources, program development, and recruitment efforts in both the healthcare system and education sectors,” the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers explained. “Having an adequate supply of nurses in the workforce is essential to providing safe and effective healthcare to the citizens of the United States.”2
Here are eight outcomes of interest from the 2017 survey:3
Among RNs, the median age was 53; for LPN/LVNs, the median age was 54.
Takeaway: “The average age of RNs has remained the same since 2015, but there was a slight increase in the proportion of RNs nearing retirement,” according to a 2018 PowerPoint presentation from Richard Smiley, National Council of State Boards of Nursing statistician, and Cynthia Bienemy, director of the Louisiana Center for Nursing. “The average age of LPN/LVNs has risen by a year since 2015 and there was a distinct increase in the proportion of LPN/LVNs nearing retirement.”
More men are pursuing nursing careers as RNs. In 2017, 9.1% of RNs were male, up from 8% in 2015. Among LPN/LVNs, 7.8% were male.
Takeaway: “The proportion of RNs who are male has steadily risen since 2013. … The proportion of LPN/LVNs who are male is unchanged since 2013,” according to the presentation.
For RNs, 19.3% of those responding said they were minorities; among LPN/LVNs that number was 28.9%.
Takeaway: “The proportion of RNs in minority groups is expected to increase in coming years. The proportion of LPN/LVNs in minority groups is larger than that for RNs and that proportion is expected to increase in coming years.”
Among RNs, 41.7% qualified for their first nursing license with a BSN degree. For 3.8%, that credential was a master’s degree in nursing. Among LPN/LVNs, 83.2% said they qualified for their first license with a vocational/practical certificate.
Takeaway: “The trend toward RNs pursuing and achieving higher levels of education continues with increasing proportions of RNs entering practice with a BSN, earning master’s degrees, and earning DNPs,” the presenters said.
RNs working full time comprised 65.3% of respondents, and 84.5% were actively employed in the profession. Among LPN/LVNs, 64.7% reported full-time employment.
Takeaway: Full-time employment for RNs grew to 65.3% from 60.4% in 2013.
- Work Setting
The majority of RN survey respondents worked in hospitals (55.7%). LPN/LVNs most commonly worked in nursing homes or extended-care settings (31.6%).
Takeaway: The top primary specialties for RNs were acute care/critical care and medical-surgical, and for LPN/LVNs, the top employment specialties were geriatric/gerontology and home health.
RNs reported median pretax earnings of $63,000; LPN/LVNs reported median pretax earnings of $40,000.
Takeaway: Salaries are on the rise. RNs saw an increase of $3,000 from 2015, and LPN/LVNs $2,000.
Among RNs and LPN/LVNs, 54.1% practice telehealth. For RNs involved in telehealth, 9.7% spend between 76% and 100% of their time in this practice. For LPN/LVNs, 12.7% spend between 76% and 100% of their time engaged in telehealth. This is up from 7.2% in 2015.
Takeaway: “An increasing number of RNs and LPN/LVNs engage in telehealth across state borders and national borders,” according to the Smiley-Bienemy presentation.
Can a Master of Science in Nursing Advance My Career?
A master’s degree in nursing can lead you to dozens of career destinations. The question is, which one is right for you? As a working professional, you can attend nursing school online and earn your MSN degree while continuing to gain experience in the job you love.
When choosing an online MSN program, look for an accredited university that offers flexibility and choice. Walden University’s MSN program is No. 1 in Master of Science in Nursing graduates in the United States.4 It offers eight specializations as pathways to your career goals. Specializations include Public Health Nursing, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner.
With the National Nursing Workforce Survey showing opportunity and growth, now is a great time to improve your career outcomes. Step up and step into an MSN degree and a career that takes you to new heights and challenges.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with eight specializations. Expand your career options and earn a degree online in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
1 Source: www.ncsbn.org/workforce.htm
2 Source: https://nursingworkforcecenters.org/national-nursing-workforce-study
3 Source: www.ncsbn.org/2018SciSymp_Smiley-Bienemy.pdf
4 Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP code 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse). Includes 2016 preliminary data.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org