New federal data show America’s nursing workforce has become more diverse over the past 15 years, but underrepresentation remains a problem in a field struggling with burnout and racism. A diverse nursing workforce can reduce health disparities, provide more culturally competent care, and, in turn, improve patient outcomes. There needs to be sustained efforts to recruit and retain nurses of color to ensure the field continues to diversify, healthcare groups say.


ONS Perspective

Research shows that a culturally diverse nursing workforce is better able to provide quality, culturally competent care to patients and their families. In data released late March 2024 from its National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) showed the country's progress in recruiting and retaining nurses, with growth in underrepresented populations such as males and individuals from African American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American or Alaska Native, and multiple racial backgrounds. For example, the percentages of Asian, Black, and male nurses increased from 5%, 8%, and 10% in 2018 to 9%, 11%, and 12% in 2022, respectively.

However, the degree of dissatisfaction grew from 11% in 2017 to almost 20% in 2021, with the highest decline among hospital-based RNs, HRSA reported. Job satisfaction declined the most among hospital-based RNs. In total, 82% of respondents said they felt burned out at some point in their career, with 26% saying they felt burnout every day in 2021.

More must be done to address burnout and racism. Join ONS in advocating for Title VIII Nursing Development Workforce Programs, which include programs for nurse diversity and retention, to promote a multicultural workforce that’s equipped to provide culturally appropriate care.

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