RNs on the rise: Report shows number of nurses continues to climb

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America's registered nurse workforce is larger and more diverse than ever before, according to the results of a recently released quadrennial study.

Between 2004 and 2008, the number of registered nurses in the U.S. climbed to 3.1 million, according to the report released Wednesday by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, the percentage of non-white RNs climbed to 16.8%, up from 12.2% in 2004. The HRSA report also shows levels of nurse education have risen dramatically over the last three decades. In 1980, only 27.5% of RNs had achieved a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing. In 2008, 50% of RNs had BAs.

The HRSA report, “The Registered Nurse Population: Initial Findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses,” also contains comparisons to the organization's eight previous surveys. A final report will be published this summer. More information is available at the HRSA Web site.