As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe, the importance of our essential healthcare professionals was never more apparent. We saw clinicians working long shifts, with limited access to protective gear, putting the health of their patients above their fear of the virus. Specifically, nurses were champions of physical and emotional support for families and patients alike. While the long-term ramifications of the past few years are still yet to be fully seen, the role and influence of nurses will undoubtedly be changed forever.
To help recognize nurses, we’ve put together 10 interesting facts about this essential, trusted, and ever-growing segment of the healthcare industry.
10 interesting facts about nurses
1. Despite the intense challenges the pandemic placed on the clinician’s emotional well-being, nurses still consider it their calling: A survey in the American Nurse Journal reveals that 80% of those polled would still become a nurse if they had to choose all over again. Though down slightly from previous years, this rate has stayed relatively consistent over the previous two years as well, noting that the pandemic has not shifted their dedication.
2. There are about as many nurses in the U.S. as there are people in Los Angeles: There are more than 3.8 million nurses nationwide. Roughly 80% are registered nurses (RNs), and the remaining 20% are licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Additionally, there are over 325,000 nurse practitioners licensed in the U.S. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nurses also comprise the largest segment of hospital staff, are the primary providers of hospital patient care, and deliver most of the nation’s long-term care.
3. Nurses, nurses EVERYWHERE….they aren’t just in hospitals: About 60% of employed registered nurses work in hospitals. Nurses also work in physicians’ offices and clinics, public health, home health, research labs, military bases, war zones, health IT, and many other areas.
4. Nursing continues to remain the most trusted profession: Nurses have stayed at the top of Gallup’s annual honesty/ethics poll for two decades (since 2001). In the most recent survey in 2021, 81% of respondents rated nurses as very high or high when it comes to being honest and ethical, the profession’s highest ratings to date. Doctors were second (67%), grade-school teachers third (64%), and pharmacists fourth (63%).
5. Nursing is one of the top-ranked occupations: U.S. News & World Report’s 100 Best Jobs are ranked on their ability to offer a mix of positive qualities. These jobs pay well, are challenging, offer room to advance, and provide a satisfying work-life balance. The list included several nursing positions, including nurse practitioner (#2), registered nurse (#12), and nurse anesthetist (#19).
6. Nursing continues to have fast job growth rates: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% growth rate for registered nurses from 2020 to 2030. An average of about 195,000 openings for registered nurses are projected each year over the next decade.
7. Nurses walk—a lot: A study found that nurses walk an average of 4-5 miles during a 12-hour shift. Most Americans walk just 2.5-3 miles during an 18-hour day!
8. Technology is changing the practice of nursing globally: Everything from bedside devices, health records, communication devices, telehealth, to data mining are going to impact medicine in ways we can’t yet comprehend. According to the American Clinical and Climatological Association, the doubling time of medical knowledge in 2020 was 73 days, meaning the knowledge in the field may be growing faster than the field can apply it.
9. Nursing informatics roles are continuing to grow and expand within hospitals and health systems: In a recent HIMSS survey, 38% of nursing informaticists report being in their current role for longer than 5 years, an increase from 26% in 2011. Additionally, 41% of respondents reported that their organizations have formal chief nursing informatics officers (CNIO) or senior nursing informatics officers.
10. National Nurses Week has been celebrated for more than 40 years: Efforts to have a week dedicated to nurses began in the 1950s, but wasn’t formally designated by the White House until President Nixon issued a proclamation in 1974. Each year, National Nurses Week begins on May 6 and ends on May 12—Florence Nightingale’s birthday The past two years have had special significance, as the American Nurses Association and the World Health Organization extended International Year of the Nurse and Midwife from 2020 to 2021 to recognize all nurses’ sacrifices and contributions. This year, the theme of National Nurses Week is “Nurses Make a Difference,” honoring the varying roles of nurses and the positive impact they make to patients, families, and communities.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.