aCertification examinations by each body were not available in every calendar year.
SOURCE: ADGAP, 2005.
Professional nurses7 represent the largest sector of the health care workforce responsible for patient care in most health care settings. The professional nurse workforce consists of registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who are RNs prepared in master’s degree programs. With few exceptions, almost all professional nurses are involved in the care of older adults. In addition to direct care, professional nurses supervise licensed practical nurses (LPNs)8 and certified nurse aides (CNAs) (discussed in Chapter 5). While the current and impending nursing shortage has received much attention, there have been some improvements; enrollment in baccalaureate programs increased by 5 percent from 2005 to 2006, and the number of graduates increased by 18 percent (AACN, 2006). However, this upswing is tempered by the fact that more than 32,000 qualified applicants to nursing programs (baccalaureate level or higher) were not accepted; about half the schools identified lack of faculty as the main barrier to admitting more students (AACN, 2006; Anderson, 2007). Additionally, men remain underrepresented in the nursing profession and need to be considered for recruitment efforts to allay workforce shortages (see Chapter 5).
Licensed Practical Nurses
LPNs have a more limited scope of practice than RNs, but this scope can vary widely among states, especially in light of the nursing shortage.
In this report, “professional nurses” refers to nurses who have graduated from an approved baccalaureate, associate degree, or diploma nursing program and who have passed a national licensing examination, the NCLEX-RNs.
In some states, this level of nurse is referred to as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN).