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Nurs Econ. 2000 Jul-Aug;18(4):178-84.

Associate degree graduates and the rapidly aging RN workforce.

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  • 1Program in Health Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.


This second segment of a four-part series examines the inter-relationship between the growth in associate degree nursing programs and the aging of the RN workforce. A growing proportion of new RNs have entered the workforce via associate degree programs, increasing from 40% in 1977 to 60% in 1996. New graduates, as well as working RNs, are approximately 5 years older in 1996 than 20 years earlier. Findings suggest that the rapid aging of the RN workforce can not be directly attributed to the rise in the number of older-aged graduates of associate degree programs. Rather, the declining propensity of those born after 1960 to enter nursing has resulted in fewer young RNs, and therefore: (1) an aging workforce, and (2) fewer new grads from baccalaureate programs (which have always attracted younger RNs) relative to grads from associate degree programs (which have always attracted older RNs).

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