Number of registered nurses rises, but so does average age, group says

Share this content:

The number of licensed registered nursing increased 7.9% between 2000 and 2004, according to survey results released this week by the Health Resources and Services Administration. This information is a positive sign for nursing homes and the healthcare industry in general, which struggles to fill nurses' positions.

Nurses totaled about 2.9 million in 2004. The growth in the four-year period surpassed the growth of the previous four years. The number of nurses rose by 5.4% between 1996 and 2000. In addition, more than 83% of licensed RNs were employed in nursing in 2004, the highest rate since 1980.

While the growth in the number of nurses is encouraging, the growth in the number of older nurses is discouraging, according to HRSA Administrator Betty Duke. More than 41% of RNs were 50 or older in 2004, up from one third in 2000. An aging workforce may negatively affect the future supply of nurses, Duke suggested.