The Importance of Good Data: How the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses Has Been Used to Improve Knowledge and Policy

Oct. 06, 2011

In 1977, the federal government launched the nation’s largest and most significant program to collect data on the registered nurse (RN) workforce of the United States—the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN). This survey is conducted by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, first in 1977 and then every 4 years since 1980. This article offers the history of the NSSRN and a review of the ways in which the NSSRN data have been used to examine education, demographics, employment, shortages, and other aspects of the RN workforce. The influence this body of research has had on policymaking is explored. Recommendations for future research are offered, in the hope that future waves of the NSSRN will continue to be used to their fullest potential.