Long Term Trends in Characteristics of the Rural Nurse Workforce: A National Health Workforce Study

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2004
Project completed:
February 2008
This national study characterizes changes in the demographic, education and practice characteristics of registered nurses (RNs) in rural and urban areas from 1980 to 2004. Study data come from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) collected between 1980 and 2004, RNs were categorized into urban, large rural, small rural and isolated small rural by residence and work location using the Rural-Urban Commuting Area taxonomy. The study examines changes since 1980 in rural RN number, percent employed in nursing, age, gender, race/ethnicity, age at first RN degree, types of degrees attained, type of work, salaries, the types of areas where the RNs work and their likely commuting patterns.

By examining trends in rural RNs characteristics over the past two decades, this study provides important information for projecting future trends in RN supply for rural communities.


  • Changes in the Rural Registered Nurse Workforce From 1980 to 2004 (Final Report)
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 10/2007
    With data from 1980-2004 National Sample Surveys of Registered Nurses, and using Rural-Urban Commuting Area definitions, this study describes changes in rural and urban registered nurse demographics, education, and employment characteristics over time.
  • Changes in the Rural Registered Nurse Workforce From 1980 to 2004 (Project Summary)
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 10/2007
    Current and projected nationwide shortages of registered nurses (RNs) threaten access to and quality of care in most parts of the country. In rural areas, healthcare is frequently challenged by uneven distribution of healthcare providers, including nurses. This report shows changes in the rural RN workforce from 1980 to 2004.