Trends in the Experiences of Hospital-Employed Registered Nurses: Results From Three National Surveys

Peter I. Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN; Karen Donelan, ScD; Beth T. Ulrich, EdD, RN, FACHE, FAAN; Catherine Desroches, Dr.P.H.; Robert Dittus, MD, MPH


Nurs Econ. 2007;25(2):69-79. 

In This Article


This article reports highlights of findings from the 2006 National Survey of Registered Nurses (RNs) conducted in late summer 2006. This survey builds upon the authors' assessment of the state of the nursing workforce in the United States published during 2005 and early 2006 in a six-part series of articles in Nursing Economic$ (Buerhaus, Donelan, Ulrich, Norman, & Dittus, 2006). That assessment was based largely on comparing the results of several recent national random sample surveys: surveys of RNs conducted in both 2002 and 2004, a 2003 survey of nursing students, and a 2005 survey of hospital chief nursing officers. These surveys were carried out by collaboration of re searchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and The Massachusetts General Hospital as part of an ongoing project to evaluate the Johnson & John son Campaign for Nursing's Future. The campaign, which began in February 2002, is a major national initiative (expenditures exceeding $30 million to date) aimed at increasing awareness of the nursing shortage, recruiting people into the nursing profession, retaining nurses in clinical practice, and increasing the capacity of the nation's nursing education programs (see for more information).

Because we use many of the same identically worded items from previous surveys, we are able to compare the results of the 2006 national survey of RNs to the results from our earlier 2004 and 2002 national surveys. This comparison gives us some evidence to determine whether hospital-employed RNs' perceive any change in the prevalence and severity of the nursing shortage; its impact on nurses, patients, and hospitals; and whether the improvements RNs' perceived in 2004 have continued or faded.


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