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Latino, nurses, nursing shortage, nursing workforce



  1. Maria Hayes-Bautista, Teodocia PhD, MPH, RN
  2. Schink, Werner CPhil, MS
  3. Emmett Hayes-Bautista, David PhD


Objective: This study aims to provide demographic data on the 5.4% of U.S. RNs who are Latino in order to assist nursing educators in planning more effective engagement with the growing U.S. Latino population.


Methods: Detailed data from the U.S. Census for the years 1980 to 2010 were used to identify the total U.S. population and the total number of RNs in four standard U.S. Census racial and ethnic groups: non-Latino white (NLW), Latino, African American, and Asian/Pacific Islander.


Results: The number of RNs in each racial or ethnic group per 100,000 persons of that same group is reported for all four groups. Spanish-language ability and nativity were derived only for the NLW and Latino groups. Data are reported for the United States as a whole and for the five states with the largest Latino populations: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. Of the four racial and ethnic groups, Latinos had the fewest number of RNs per 100,000 population in the period from 1980 to 2010. Compared with NLW RNs, Latino RNs were more likely to speak Spanish and to have been born abroad. State-by-state variations from the national patterns are provided.


Conclusions: While major nursing organizations have expressed a desire to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce, the data show that Latinos lag far behind all other racial and ethnic groups in representation among RNs. Nursing education programs and institutions need to improve their efforts to increase the number of Latino nurses relative to the Latino population.