State of the Registered Nurse Workforce as a New Era of Health Reform Emerges

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Executive Summary▸ Over the past 15 years, the registered nurse (RN) workforce was challenged by a national nursing shortage that exceeded 100,000 RNs, two economic recessions, and implementation of health reforms beginning in 2010.▸ At the same time, efforts by private and public entities sought to increase interest in nursing with the result the number of people awarded undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing grew dramatically from 2003 to present.▸ RN employment also increased by more than 1 million full-time equivalents with growth occurring more rapidly in hospitals vs. non-hospital settings; RNs with bachelor's and master's degrees earned considerably more than did those with an associate degree.▸ While recent projections indicate growth in the nursing workforce through 2030 will be large enough to replace more than 1 million RNs who will retire over this period, because growth in the RN workforce will be uneven throughout the country, temporary and local shortages vs. large national shortages are expected.▸ The nursing profession will need to draw upon its strengths and strong foundation as new health reforms and other challenges bear down on the nursing workforce over the next 15 years.

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