Comparing Forecasts of Registered Nurse Supply and Demand for California

March 27, 2019

Projections of future supply and demand for registered nurses (RNs) have been published by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) since 2005. The forecasts are intended to guide educators, employers, and policymakers to take action to ensure that supply is adequate to meet future health care needs, while also ensuring that newly-graduated RNs are able to find employment in California.

Other organizations and researchers have also published RN supply and demand projections, based on different methods and datasets. This document compares the methods and results of some often-cited projections.

The projections developed by the BRN are based on the BRN’s surveys: the Annual Schools Survey and the Biennial Survey of Registered Nurses.

The supply projection is based on a “stock and flow” model, in which the “stock” of RNs is the number of RNs licensed and living in California, and the “flow” are the numbers of nurses entering and leaving the workforce each year. Each year, the stock of nurses changes based on the flows; the projection model thus produces and estimated increase or decrease in the supply of nurses for each year after the starting year. The total number of nurses is then multiplied by employment rates to estimate future full-time equivalent (FTE) employment.

Several different projections of demand are calculated because there are many factors that can affect future demand for RNs. The potential need for RNs does not necessarily match demand, because demand is based – at least in part – on the amount of funds employers choose to dedicate to RN employment.

The supply and demand projections are for RNs overall and do not attempt to disaggregate demand based on RN educaiton level.