The latest Current Population Survey (CPS) data shows that the recent surge among young RNs continues to hold. The number of FTE RNs aged 23-26, a good indicator of interest in nursing as a profession, gradually declined from the peaks reached in the late 1970s with the baby boom cohorts. Numbering 200,000 in 1979, the number of young RNs declined to 100,000 and remained there from 1990 to 2004. Since then, the number of young RNs has doubled again, matching highs from the previous era by 2011, and holding steady in 2012 and 2013.

This re-emergence of interest is likely due to a number of factors including media attention and campaigns surrounding the recruitment and retention of RNs and a sense of job security and relatively high wages for RNs compared to other opportunities over the last decade.

This continued resurgence of entry into nursing, which we reported on several years ago1, continues to be surprising and not well understood. More work is needed to understand this growth so we may more reliably understand the future adequacy of the nursing workforce.

1. Auerbach DI, Buerhaus PI, Staiger DO. Registered nurse supply grows faster than projected amid surge in new entrants ages 23-26. Health Affairs 2011;30:2286-92.

Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies, Research Brief No. 2
May 2014
Peter Buerhaus, David Auerbach, Douglas Staiger, and Christine Friedman