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California Nurses: Taking the Pulse

Tim Bates and Joanne Spetz, Healthforce Center at UCSF

In 2015, 330,000 registered nurses made up the largest health profession in California. This overview of the nursing workforce looks at supply, demographics, education, distribution, and pay.

California is home to more than 330,000 actively licensed registered nurses (RNs), making nursing the single largest health profession in the state.

Key findings include:

  • The nursing workforce has grown more diverse. Non-white RNs accounted for almost half (48%) of employed nurses in 2015. However, compared to the state's population, Latinos were significantly underrepresented in the RN workforce, while Filipinos and whites were significantly overrepresented.
  • The pre-licensure programs for RNs produced 11,119 graduates in 2015, slightly down from a high of 11,512 in 2010.
  • California's RN workforce relies on foreign-educated nurses. In 2015, about one in five employed RNs were trained outside the US.
  • 64% of employed RNs worked in a hospital in 2014. Another 15% were in ambulatory care.
  • Nurses' average income was $100,000 in 2015.
  • In 2015, more than two-thirds (71%) of LVN graduates came from for-profit schools.

Quick reference guides, as well as a full report from 2010, are available under Document Downloads.

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The CHCF Almanac regularly publishes data and analysis on California's health care market.

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