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By the Numbers: Nursing in 2020

Nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession, with more than 3.8 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide. Of all licensed RNs, 84.5 percent are employed in nursing. The federal government projects that more than 200,000 new registered nurse positions will be created each year from 2016-2026. Here are a few additional facts, by the numbers, about the nursing profession and its importance. According to the State of The World’s Nursing 2020 Report:

Nursing represents the largest occupation in the health care sector, accounting for 59 percent of health care professionals.

There are 27.9 million nurses in the workforce, of which 19.3 million are classified as professional nurses.

Over 80 percent of the world’s nurses are found in countries that account for half of the world’s population. The global shortage of nurses, estimated to be 6.6 million in 2016, had decreased slightly to 5.9 million nurses in 2018.

Females account for about 90 percent of the nursing workforce, but they are underrepresented in leadership positions.

Based on data from 86 countries, one nurse out of eight (13 percent) was born or trained in a country other than the one in which they currently practice.

To address the nursing shortage across the globe by 2030 the total number of nursing graduates should be increased by 8 percent. Countries should be prepared to employ, but also retain the graduates. If the trends work as per the projections, then there will be 36 million nurses across the globe by 2030.

Countries affected by shortages will need to increase funding to educate and employ at least 5.9 million additional nurses.

38 percent of nurses are below the age of 35, while 17 percent are 55 and above.

One out of six of the world’s nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years; this percentage is substantially higher in the Region of the Americas (24 percent), posing a further replenishment challenge.

4.7 million new nurses will have to be educated and employed over the next decade just to maintain the status quo.

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