Characteristics of RN Employment

While they may share the same occupation, not all nurses share the same employment settings or work hours. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entitled "The Registered Nurse Population: Initial Findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses," the employment characteristics of registered nurses can greatly vary from person to person.

In the United States, the most common place for a registered nurse to work is in a hospital. Of the nurses employed in 2008, 62.6 percent reported that they worked in hospitals, an increase from 56.2 percent in 2004. Out of the nurses who were employed by hospitals, 70 percent worked in inpatient units that were within specialty hospitals or the non-Federal community hospitals, and 10.8 percent worked in either outpatient clinics or medical practices in specialty or community hospitals. About 1.5 percent of nurses worked within a department of long-term hospitals, 2 percent worked in psychiatric hospitals, and 3.2 percent worked in Federal hospitals. Nurses are also employed in other areas of health care, with 10.5 percent of nurses working in ambulatory care, 7.8 percent in public or community health, 6.4 percent in home health services, 3.8 percent in academic education, and 5.3 percent in nursing home or extended care. The largest increase in nursing employment was in home health service units or agencies, which increased from 3.8 percent in 2004 to 6.4 percent in 2008.

In 2008, the majority of registered nurses, 84.8 percent, were actively employed in nursing positions, with 63.2 working full time. Those employed full time worked an average of 42.9 hours a week. Full-time nurses who worked the most each week, 45.8 hours, were employed at nursing homes, and those who were employed in a home health setting worked 45.3 hours each week. Registered nurses who were employed in part-time positions worked an average of 24.1 hours each week. Part-time nurses who worked the most each week were those employed at hospitals, a total of 25.2 hours, and those who were employed in a home health setting worked 24.4 hours each week. Overall, nurses employed in school health settings worked the least each week, with full-time nurses working 39 hours and part-time nurses working 18.9 hours. Other than school health settings, full time nurses who were employed in occupational health worked the least, 42.4 hours per week, and part time nurses who were employed in insurance, benefits, or utilization review, worked the least, 21 hours each week.

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