Racial and Ethnic Diversity of the U.S. National Nurse Workforce 1988–2013

The objective of this article is to examine the racial and ethnic diversity profile of the nurse workforce over time and by geographic region. We conducted survey analysis using the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses from 1988 to 2008, and further supplemented our trend analysis using published findings from the 2013 National Workforce Survey of Registered Nurses. The gap in racial/ethnic minority representation between the RN workforce and the population has been persistent and has widened over time. This diversity gap is primarily due to underrepresentation of Hispanics and Blacks in the RN workforce, which varied across states and regions, with the largest gaps occurring for Hispanics in the South and West and for Blacks in the South. Greater levels of sustained and targeted support to increase nurse workforce diversity are needed and should be geared not only to specific underrepresented groups but also to the regions and states with the greatest needs.