1. Humphrey, Carolyn J. MS, RN, FAAN

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It's May, and most likely your annual celebration of nursing is in full swing by the time you read these words. Each year there are discussions about how this week and the entire month should be marked. The debate usually centers around the way celebrations occur and that the giving of pens, mugs, or other trivial tokens diminish our professionalism. I agree with the critics about the interesting gifts offered, but have watched as nurses coveted them with delight! It seems to me that gifts such as subscriptions to professional journals, books, or education offerings better recognizes what we are about.


I also believe that we should celebrate our profession's contribution to the well being of society as we work to encourage others to join us, rather than paint horrific images of nursing. I hope that some of the facts about nursing gathered from the newly released HHS National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (2002) will help you reflect on your contribution to society and the reasons you are a nurse 365 days a year-not just this month. We must address from within the profession how to solve the nursing shortage-being more positive is the main way to accomplish this goal.


* There are nearly 2.7 million RNs in the United States, 2.2 million of whom are actively employed.


* The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just listed nursing as one of the top 40 growth jobs for the next 10 years projecting a need for 2.6 million working RNs by the year 2005-an additional 800,000 RNs above current levels.


* In 1980, 26% of RNs were under age 30, and by 2000, that proportion dropped to <10%.


* There are over 196,000 advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the United States. Of these, approximately 88,100 are nurse practitioners (NPs), 54,300 are clinical nurse specialists, 14,600 are both NPs and clinical nurse specialists, 9,200 are nurse midwives, and 29,800 are nurse anesthetists.


* Research indicates that APNs can provide 60% to 80% of primary care services as well as or better than physicians and at a lesser cost.


* APNs can legally prescribe medications in 49 states and in the District of Columbia.


* The new Honesty and Ethics Gallup poll revealed that in 2001, the American public rated nursing school second, behind police and firefighters, of those professions with the standards of honesty and ethics. In the same poll conducted in 1999 and 2000, nursing was first (Moore, 2002).



Happy to be a Nurse!


Happy Nurses' Week!




1. Health Resources and Services Administration. (2002). 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. February 14, 2002. Available online at[Context Link]


2. Moore, D.W. (2002). Firefighters top Gallup's "Honesty and Ethics" List: Nurses and members of military close behind. Gallup News Service. The Gallup Organization. December 5, 2001. Available online at[Context Link]