Nursing Facts: 8 Things You Should Know About the Nursing Profession

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A nurse presses buttons on a digital monitor in a hospital room.

Did you know that nursing students account for over half of all health care students? Nursing is not only an important job, but also a booming profession. And those who earn a degree from a nursing program are not only learning valuable skills that can help them make a difference in the lives of others, but they are also entering an evolving and expanding profession with the necessary tools to succeed. Discover more about the profession with these nine interesting nursing facts.

Intriguing and Useful Nursing Facts

If you are interested in studying to become a nurse, these eight nursing facts cover not only the current state of nursing in the U.S., but also its projected future in years to come.

The Beginnings of the Nursing Profession

The history of professional nursing traditionally begins with Florence Nightingale, the well-educated daughter of wealthy British parents who defied social convention by deciding to become a nurse, then considered a low-status profession. She tended to injured soldiers in the Crimean War in the 1850s and played a significant role in changing the nature of the nursing profession in the 19th century. She opened the first professional nursing school in 1855 at St. Thomas Hospital in London.

Candidates Can Choose from More Than One Hundred Nursing Professions

An article in Medical News Today notes more than one hundred nursing professions. Specialties include ambulatory, geriatrics, hospice, nephrology, neuroscience, pediatrics, radiology, rheumatology, telemetry, transplant, and trauma. According to an article on Gap Medics, the following are some of the most popular specialties or professions within the nursing field: nurse midwife, ICU, nurse practitioner, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), medical surgery, and oncology.

By 2020, More Than 800,000 RN Positions Are Expected to Go Unfilled Nationwide

According to the American Nurses Association, there will be “far more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year.” Yet, many of those jobs are set to remain unfilled due to a combination of open positions and nurse retirement. More than 200,000 nursing positions are expected to remain unfilled by 2026.

Nearly 3 Million Nurses Are Employed in the United States

Registered nurse positions are opening up as demand for health care services expands along with the aging U.S. population. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses held just under 3 million jobs in 2016 — 2,955,200 positions. The BLS projects 3,393,200 open positions by 2026, an increase of 15% in a 10-year period. In fact, an American Nurse Today (ANT) article notes 3.1 million to 3.6 million registered nurses already work in the U.S. today, meaning the projection has almost or already been met. These nursing facts bode well for future job hunters in the nursing profession.

Nurses Deliver Most of the Nation’s Long-Term Care

An ANT article notes that nurses handle the majority of our nation’s long-term medical care — care provided over a long period of time for people with chronic illness or disability, delivered at home or in health care spaces. According to, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people turning 65 have a 70% chance of needing a long-term care service, with 20% needing care for more than five years. With hundreds of thousands of elderly people needing long-term care, nurses play a critical role in enabling more people to receive it.

Up to 62.2% of all Employed RNs Work in Hospitals

Hospitals are always a hive of activity. Nurses, physicians, technicians, therapists, medical assistants, patients, and their loved ones all have someplace to be or someone to talk to. That means many people may not realize just how strong the presence of nurses really is in an active hospital. For instance, according to an article in ANT, nurses are the largest group of hospital staff. Throughout a hospital, most health-care-related tasks are carried out by dedicated nurses. In fact, according to the same ANT article, 62.2% of all registered nurses work in hospitals.

Demand Is High for Home Health Care Nurses

As many hospitals shift focus to acute and specific care, many private health care options — such as home health care, outpatient centers, and neighborhood clinics — are expanding, opening up job opportunities for registered nurses. According to a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12,400 home health agencies served up to 4.9 million patients who received care at home. With so many people already using home health care, as well as more people aging into care in the future, nurses capable of working in home health care may find that there is no shortage of job opportunities.

General Nursing Practices Are Typically the Same the World Over

No matter where you go in the world, general nursing practices are typically pretty similar. According to an article published in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (OJIN), common universal themes include the different education levels for nurses moving up into more complex roles, credentialing standards to create a level of safety, nursing positions being held mostly by women, nursing occurring within a medical structure, and the existence of nurse shortages.

Make the Most of This Information

To make the most of these nursing facts and to take advantage of potential nursing opportunities in the future, consider pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or post-master’s certificate as offered by an institute of higher learning such as Regis College. The pursuit of advanced-level nursing knowledge can help prepare professionals for a future of success as opportunities for registered nurses flourish across the United States.

Recommended Readings:
How Long Are BSN to DNP Programs?
When Will Nurse Practitioners Need a Doctorate to Continue Advancing Their Careers?
What Is Professionalism in Nursing?

All Nurses, Men in Nursing Historical Timeline
American Nurses Association, Workforce
American Nurse Today, “The Facts About Your Nursing Career”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Long-Term Care Providers and Services User in the United States: Data from the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2013-2014”
Gap Medics, The Most Popular Nursing Specialties in the U.S., How Much Care Will You Need?
Medical News Today, “What Can I Expect From a Nursing Career?”
National Health Care Provider Solutions, “You Should Know These 10 Remarkable Facts About Nursing”
News Medical, “History of Nursing”
Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, “Overview: Nursing Around the World: What Are the Commonalities and Differences?”
Regis College, Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
Regis College, Online Master of Science in Nursing Programs
Regis College, Online Post-Master’s Certificates
Regis College, The Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing