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National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses


The National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) is the largest survey of registered nurses (RNs) in the U.S. The survey is sent to a small percentage of the actively-licensed registered nurses in each state. Nurses are asked to report on their education, employment, intentions regarding nursing work, and demographics. These data are used to assess the status and trends in the U.S. nursing workforce.

Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions
Data Years Available: 
1977, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008
Every 4 years, since 1980
Mode of Collection: 
Selected Content: 
Education, employment setting and position, intention to stay in nursing, demographic characteristics.
Population Covered: 
Actively-licensed registered nurses in the U.S.

The 2008 NSSRN sample was determined by randomly selecting individual RNs from each state's listing of licensed RNs, with the sampling rate differing across states. The survey questionnaire for 2008 was based on the 2004 questionnaire with revisions to address current issues and improve data quality. The multimedia data collection included Web, paper, and nonresponse follow-up by telephone.

Response Rates and Sample Size: 

A total of 55,171 RNs were sampled for the 2008 survey, of whom 870 were determined to be ineligible because they no longer had an active RN license. Completed surveys totaled 33,549, yielding a response rate of 62.4%.

Interpretation Issues: 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (2010). The Registered Nurse Population: Initial Findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses.