National Nursing Workforce Study
About the Study
Every two years, NCSBN partners with The National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers to conduct the only national-level survey specifically focused on the U.S. nursing workforce. The National Nursing Workforce Survey generates information on the supply of nurses in the country, which is critical to workforce planning, and to ensure a safe and effective health care system. Full results of the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Survey were published in a supplement to the April 2023 issue of the Journal of Nursing Regulation. If you have any questions, please contact the NCSBN Research Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2022 National Nursing Workforce Study Highlights
This study used a mixed-mode approach, involving mailing a national, randomized sample survey to licensed RNs and LPNs/LVNs in most jurisdictions, supplemented by a national, randomized sample survey emailed to licensed RNs and LPNs/LVNs in four jurisdictions and data from the e-Notify nurse licensure notification system for five jurisdictions. Data from RN and LPN/LVN respondents were collected between April 11, 2022, and September 30, 2022. A total of 278,631 RNs and 55,503 LPN/LVNs participated in the study. A nonresponse analysis was conducted, and a weighting scheme was used in the analysis process to adjust the distribution across states, age, and gender in order to estimate population-level statistics.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the U.S. Nursing Workforce
The 2022 National Nursing Workforce Study represents the largest, most comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the nursing workforce since the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. The analysis confirms that approximately 100,000 registered nurses and 34,000 licensed practical and vocational nurses left the workforce over the past two years specifically due to the pandemic. Alarmingly, 41% of the RN total is comprised of nurses with a mean age of 36 and fewer than 10 years’ work experience.
Further, high workloads, stress, and burnout have strained the current U.S. nursing workforce, compounding observed attrition over the past two years. Study results indicate 62% of nurses at all levels reported an increase in their workload during the pandemic. In addition, half reported feeling emotionally drained, used up, fatigued, and burned out a few times a week to every day (45%-56%). Over one quarter of the workforce (29%) reported feeling at the end of their rope at similar intervals.
Looking ahead, 800,000 RNs and 184,000 LPNs/LVNs indicate they are likely to leave nursing by 2027. That is equivalent to roughly 20% of the total licensed RN and LPN/LVN workforces in the U.S., respectively. Younger, early career nurses account for 24% of the RN total due to burnout and stress. However, the report notes these projections are not static, but rather manipulable outcomes depending on the decisions policymakers make today and in the near future. This critical work serves as an urgent call to tailor policy solutions aimed at fostering a more resilient, sustainable, and safer U.S. nursing workforce moving forward.
Selected results from the 2022 RN and LPN/LVN surveys are below:
2022 National Nursing Workforce Study
Registered Nurses (RN)
Blue=Percent Hispanic, Green=Percent White; Purple=Percent Black; Red=Percent Asian
Blue= % Doctoral; Green= % MSN; Light Blue= % BSN; Red= % ADN; Yellow= % Diploma
- The median age of RNs was 46 in 2022, falling from a median age of 52 in 2020
- The median age decline was associated with the loss of over 200,000 experienced RNs to the workforce
- Data indicates a growing number of male RNs; 11.2% in 2022, compared to 9.4% in 2020, and 8.0% in 2015
- 20% of RN respondents self-reported as a minority, which includes ‘other’ and ‘two or more races’. The number of RNs of Hispanic/Latino origin increased from 3.6% to 6.9% between 2015 and 2022
- 47.2% of RNs reported a BSN as the degree that qualified them for their first US nursing license; this number was 41.8% in 2020 and and 39% in 2015.
- Hospitals were the primary employment setting for 57.5% of RNs
- The median pre-tax earnings for RNs increased from $70,000 in 2020, to $80,000 in 2022
- Over 60% of RNs reported an in increase to their workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Licensed Practical Nurses/Vocational Nurses (LPN/VN)
- The median age of LPN/LVNs was 47 in 2022, falling from a median age of 53 in 2020
- The median age decline was associated with the loss of over 600,000 experienced LPN/LVNs to the workforce
- The percentage of males in LPN/LVN workforce increased from 8.1% in 2020 to 10.2% in 2022
- LPN/LVNs were more racially and ethnically diverse than their RN counterparts with approximately 34% of LPN/VNs identifying as racial minorities, and 11.5% identifying as Hispanic/Latino
- 82.0% of LPN/LVNs indicated a vocational/practical certificate as their entry-level qualification for their first US nursing license
- 30.6% LPN/LVNs indicated that their primary nursing practice position was in a nursing home/extended care setting in 2022, increasing from 27.5% in 2020
- The median pre-tax annual earnings for LPN/VNs increased from $44,000 in 2020 to $50,000 in 2022
- Over 60% of LPN/LVNs reported an in increase to their workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic