Long-term care nurse ratio holding steady, report finds

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The percentage of registered nurses working in long-term care has hardly changed during the past half decade, preliminary results from a study find.

About 6.3% of all RNs reported nursing homes and extended care facilities as their primary place of employment, according to the 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses.
Ambulatory care settings saw the largest percentage increase (to 11.5% from 9.5%). This category includes places such as physician-based practices, nurse-based practices and health maintenance organizations.
Although the estimated number of RNs in hospitals was increased, their percentage dropped to 56.2% from 59.1%. Authors said the shift might reflect structural changes in hospitals, such as more specialty outpatient clinics.
The survey also found that nurses are getting older. The average age rose to 46.8 years from 45.2 years. In 2000, nearly a third (31.7%) of all RNs were under age 40. But the figure has since dropped to 26.6%, according to the study.
Overall, the number of RNs in the U.S. has increased to 2.9 million since 2000, up 7.9%. That's higher than the 5.2% increase from 1996-2000, but lower than the 14.2% increase experienced from 1992-1996.
About 78% of nurses were satisfied with their jobs. Only 13.8% were dissatisfied.
The New England region had the highest concentration of employed RNs in relation to
the area's population: 1,107 employed RNs per 100,000 population.
The Health Resources and Services Administration's Bureau of Health Professions conducts the survey every four years. It expects to publish complete results next month.

Where RNs work

Setting Percent
Hospital 56.2
Public/community Health 14.9
Ambulatory care 11.5
Long-term care 6.3
Nursing education 2.6
Other 8.5
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration, 2006