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Nursing Demographics

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Who is Today’s Nurse? A Study into Demographics and More

The women and men within the nursing profession have a few things in common across the board. They have chosen a fast-paced career with low employment rates and continued opportunity for growth along a defined ladder.


From there it is hard to make assumptions about who is a nurse today. Demographics continue to change and an aging population keeps the idea of a nursing shortage front and center. That’s because the average nurse is approximately 45 years old. Nurses under 30 only represent about 15 percent of the RN profession.


Not only is our graying society in need of more nursing care, many RNs are going to be ready to retire in 10 to 20 years.  Let’s take a look at other trends that are taking shape across the nation:


Male Nurses


In 2013, the United States Census Bureau published an American Community Survey Highlight Report entitled “Men in Nursing Occupations.”   While the number of men in the profession has tripled since 1970, the numbers are still scant, with less than 10 percent representation in the RN field.


However, men make up 41 percent of the nurse anesthetist population, bringing home average earnings of $162,900 per year. Average earnings for all males in the nursing occupations were $60,700. Their female counterparts earned 91 cents on the dollar for an average of $51,100 per year.


Diverse Nurses


Statistics from indicate that a full 75 percent of nurses are white. It’s a disparity that can prove detrimental to diverse communities where nursing representation is small compared to the health needs of the population. African American nurses number at approximately 276,000 and are followed closely by Asian nurses at 234,400.  The Pacific region of the United States has the greatest number of diverse nurses at 30.5 percent.


There are also educational differences among minority nurses, with Asian nurses the most likely to hold the minimum of a BSN (70 percent). Meanwhile, almost 15 percent of African American nurses have an MSN, PhD or DNP degree. This compares to a little over 13 percent of white nurses.


Nurses with Doctoral Degrees


The increasing complexity of today’s healthcare environment has brought about the thinking that nurses should hold similar credentials to pharmacists and physical therapists, both of which are mandated to earn their doctorates.


According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, approximately 14,700 nurses were enrolled in DNP programs in 2013. The number of traditional and online DNP programs is expected to increase along with demand. As of 2013, there were 214 DNP programs underway with an additional 59 in the works.

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