The compassion, resolve, and positive impact of nurses over the past few years cannot be overstated. From risking their lives as frontline health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic to working longer shifts in order to meet patient demand, nurses have more than earned their position as the most trusted profession for the 20th year in a row.
Nursing seems to be growing in every way. Diversity is increasing within the profession, and the demand for nurses is surging. Salaries are increasing in the field as well. These inflection points add to the widespread celebration of Nurses Month underway during May 2022. Sponsored by the American Nurses Association (ANA), Nurses Month is an annual event recognizing nurses for their tremendous effort and compassion, as they work collectively to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities nationwide. This year, their theme is as evergreen as it is prescient: Nurses Make A Difference.
Nurses at all levels and in all health care settings have played a critical role in the nation’s continued fight against COVID-19. With approximately 4.2 million registered nurses and over 325,000 licensed nurse practitioners, the nursing profession continues to flourish.
The current trends in nursing reveal an aging workforce that is slowly but steadily increasing in equality among two underrepresented groups in nursing: men and people of color. According to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, the average age of surveyed registered nurses was 52 years old, up from 51 in 2017. Nurses who are 65 years of age or older comprise the largest age category in the profession and represented 19% of the RN workforce in 2020, up from 14.6% in 2017 and 4.4% in 2013. The survey also found that men represent 9.4% of registered nurses, up from 9.1% in 2017, 8% in 2015, and 6.6% in 2013.
The report revealed the following racial demographics within the nursing field (2017 statistics in parentheses):
- 80.6% White/Caucasian (down from 80.8%)
- 7.2% Asian (down from 7.5%)
- 6.7% Black/African American (up from 6.2%)
- 2.3% Other (down from 2.9%)
- 2.1% More than one race category selected (up from 1.7%)
- 0.5% American Indian or Alaska Native (up from .4%)
- 0.4% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (down from .5%)
- 0.2% Middle Eastern/North African (2020 was the first survey with this category)
Additionally, 5.6% of RN respondents self-identified as Hispanic/Latino/Latina, up from 5.3% in 2017.
While men only represent 9.4% of registered nurses, the survey found that male nurses account for 13.6% of nurses of color, and 34.3% of nurses who identified themselves as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
When it comes to advanced practice registered nurses such as family nurse practitioners, studies show that diversity is increasing specifically when it comes to male nurse practitioners and Black nurse practitioners. In 2013, the BLS reported that only 8.2% of nurse practitioners were male and 5.8% were Black. By 2021, those percentages had grown to 12.6% male and 7% Black.
The demand for registered nurses (RNs) and family nurse practitioners (FNPs) remains high for several reasons. The aging population has a twofold effect on the nursing profession as both nurses and the patients they care for are growing older. Many nurses are nearing retirement age, and many patients are facing increased health care needs. Worldwide, 4.7 million nurses are expected to retire by 2030. When combined with the existing nursing shortage and aging Baby Boomer population, that results in the need for 10.6 million new nurses by 2030.
In the United States, the BLS projects that there will be about 194,500 openings for registered nurses every year through 2030 as nurses retire and patient demand increases. That represents a 9% growth rate in registered nursing jobs by 2030. This percentage translates to 276,800 new nursing jobs in the coming years.
As positive as the employment potential for registered nurses looks, the BLS predicts that demand for nurse practitioners (NPs) will be remarkably higher. They project an overall employment increase of 45% between the years 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average for other occupations. The BLS attributes this growth to:
- Increased focus on preventative care
- Demand for health care services from the aging baby-boom population
- Heightened use of team-based models of care
- Changes in legislation that allow advanced practice registered nurses to perform more services
- Growing cultural awareness of nurse practitioners as primary health care sources
The BLS expects to see approximately 29,400 openings for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners each year on average between 2020 and 2030. Factoring in retirement and other exits from the workforce, that represents 121,400 new jobs for advanced practice registered nurses—114,900 of which are projected to be for nurse practitioners—over the course of ten years.
Nursing statistics for salary are also a great sign of health and longevity for the profession.
Typical salaries vary depending on the geographic location and facility in which a nurse is employed, but the overall national picture is encouraging. The BLS reported a 2020 median annual income for RNs of $75,330.
The salaries are markedly higher for nurse practitioners, who earned a median wage of $111,680 as of May 2020.
Registered nurses typically enjoy a high level of job satisfaction according to the latest nursing statistics.
In a 2021 survey of RNs, 81% of nurses said they were satisfied with their jobs. While the COVID-19 pandemic increased rates of nurses feeling burned out or emotionally drained, 66% said they planned to remain at their current jobs, which is actually an increase from the 2019 statistic of 64%.
Nurse practitioners also enjoy high levels of job satisfaction. U.S. News & World Report ranks the profession as #1 in Best Health Care Jobs and #2 in the 100 Best Jobs overall. Nurse practitioners do tend to experience above average levels of stress, but they enjoy above average opportunities for upward mobility through career advancements and salary increases.
The public deeply and overwhelmingly trusts nurses. As noted in the introduction, the Gallup’s annual Most Honest and Ethical Professions Poll ranked nurses in the number one position for the 20th year in a row. Not only that, but 81% of Americans polled stated that nurses’ honesty and ethical standards are “very high” or “high.” The second-highest profession only reached 67%, highlighting the unique, positive impact of nurses on the lives of individuals.
Nurses are trusted greatly because they serve as both confidantes and liaisons between doctors and family members. This level of professional respect, combined with the fact that nurses have dedicated their lives to helping others, make the profession difficult to surpass in integrity, especially during a pandemic and pandemic recovery.
Nursing Statistics Summarized
- The average age of surveyed registered nurses is 52 years (NCSBN).
- 9.4% of nurses are male, versus 6.62% in 2013 (NCSBN).
- Nurses who are Black, multiracial, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander are increasing in representation (NCSBN).
- Registered nurse jobs are growing at an average pace of 9% by 2030 (BLS).
- Nurse practitioner jobs are growing much faster than average at 45% by 2029 (BLS).
- Registered nurses can anticipate 276,800 potential new job openings by 2030 (BLS).
- Nurse practitioners can anticipate 114,900 potential new job openings by 2030.RNs earned a median annual salary of $75,330 as of May 2020 (BLS).
- The median salary of nurse practitioners is over $111,000 per year (BLS).
- 81% of nurses are satisfied with their current jobs (AMN Healthcare).
Serving Communities and Beyond
Nurses serve as both the frontline and backbone of quality patient care. With the arrival of National Nurses Month, the staff and faculty at Carson-Newman University thank everyone who has dedicated their career to nursing and continues to touch lives with compassion.
Carson-Newman offers expert clinical preparation and a Christian-centered curriculum for those who aspire to become family nurse practitioners (FNPs). Through our affordable and convenient online FNP program, which provides clinical placements, you can broaden your impact and make holistic patient care more accessible in your community.
About Carson-Newman’s Online FNP Programs
Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a nationally ranked Christian liberal arts university. An online, yet personal, learning environment connects you with fellow students, faculty, and staff. Faith and learning are combined to create evidence-based online graduate nursing programs designed to transform you into a more autonomous caregiver.
Through its online program and student-centric curriculum, Carson-Newman provides a life-changing education where students come first. Designed for working nurses, Carson-Newman’s affordable FNP programs feature 100% online coursework with no mandatory log-in times, clinical placement service, and exceptional individualized support that prepare graduates to pass the FNP licensure exam.
If you’re ready for the next step in your nursing career, consider the online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner offered by Carson-Newman University and accredited by the CCNE.
For those who already hold an MSN degree, consider pursuing a Post-Master’s FNP Certificate to enjoy all the leadership opportunities, job satisfaction and autonomy of a family primary care provider. For more information, visit onlinenursing.cn.edu.