Registered Nurses (RNs) comprise the largest group of health professionals with approximately 3.1 million licensed providers. RNs offer essential care to patients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, community or public health areas, schools, workplaces, and home care. Nurses with graduate degrees may practice autonomously as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) – including certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists – nurse faculty, nurse researchers, nurse administrators, and public health nurses.
The services they provide are linked directly to the availability, cost, and quality of healthcare services. The contributions made by the practice and science of nursing are significant, and help to improve the quality of America’s healthcare system.
The Demand for Nurses
The Department of Labor projects that the number of RNs will grow from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020, an increase of 712,000 or 26%. With almost 500,000 RNs expected to retire within the next 10 years, the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements is 1.2 million by 2020.