According to a new study by NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing researchers, more males and people of color are entering nursing, and more nurses are earning bachelor’s degrees compared with a decade ago. The NYU study used nursing workforce data from 13 states across the US and surveyed four cohorts of nurses in 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2016, capturing data on 5,000 newly licensed nurses to observe changes in the nursing workforce over a 10-year period.

Following a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) titled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” which provided recommendations on how nurses can best advance the nation’s health, campaigns to help implement the report’s recommendations began. The report emphasized the importance of increasing gender and ethnic diversity in nursing, transforming nursing education, and fostering collaboration between nurses and other professionals.

The NYU study found that from 2005 to 2015:

  • Males entering the nursing profession grew from 8.8 percent to 13.6 percent
  • Nurses of color joining the workforce grew from 22.2 percent to 26.2 percent
  • New nurses entering the workforce with a bachelor’s degree grew from 36.6 percent to 48.5 percent
  • Working relationships between nurses and physicians improved by 7 percent
  • The percentage of white (non-Hispanic) nurses decreased from 78.9 percent in 2008 to 73.8 percent in 2015

Christine T. Kovner, RN, PhD, Mathey Mezey Professor of Geriatric Nursing at NYU Meyers, tells, “The four cohorts of new nurses were remarkably different from each other in ways that could have an important impact on workforce planning. We suspect that changes in the US economic environment, including the recession, were likely to have influenced the educational and diversity trends of new nurses, encouraging them to enter the field during a difficult period for employment.”

The study also found that today’s nurses have high ambitions. The 2015 cohort was asked about the highest degree they were pursuing or plan to pursue: 49.2 percent reported bachelor’s degrees, 56.9 percent reported master’s degrees, and 20.4 percent reported pursuing or planning to pursue a doctoral degree. 40.3 percent of the cohort also reported they learned to work in teams with professions from other fields including medicine, social work, physical therapy, occupation therapy, dental, and pharmacy.

To learn more about NYU’s study of nursing workforce changes over the last 10 years, read the full news release here.

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