American Society of Registered Nurses
American Society of Registered Nurses
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The Work Force

The ASRN estimates the total number of nurses licensed in the U.S. to be approximately 3.5 million. Licensure is the highest form of professional regulation, and all 50 states require an individual to be licensed in order to call him or herself a nurse. Each state establishes its own professional standards for licensure. There are presently licensing boards in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. All require that candidates satisfy their standards for education, training, and examination.


Over the past two years the proportion of members working for hospitals has significantly declined, while the proportion of members working for community and alternative employers has increased. This trend is being closely watched by ASRN for several different reasons. First, as the baby boomers age, the ability of hospitals to meet their needs is, at best, questionable. Second, the same generation's nurses are expected to retire from the U.S. work force in increasing numbers during the same time period. These factors, while already in play, have not yet been addressed. In order for the U.S. health care system to remain reliable, these issues must be resolved very quickly.