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A Look at Nursing in Illinois

Illinois is home to more than 123,000 nurses, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Several trends are shaping the future of that workforce, including an aging nurse population and looming nursing shortage. A 2016 workforce survey by the Illinois Center for Nursing (ICN) polled 41,194 RNs on a range of topics relating to their profession.

Aging Trends

More than half of survey respondents were over age 55. “The relatively rapid increase in RNs in older age categories has significant implications for workforce planning,” the report said. Additionally, one-third of respondents said they plan to retire within the next five years. The older population has significant implications for the future of Illinois’ workforce. Citing an aging population as one key factor, the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center estimates that the Prairie State will face a shortage of more than 21,000 nurses by 2020.

Workforce Diversity

Data from the ICN survey found that racial diversity among Illinois nurses is in decline. While 29 percent of respondents over the age of 65 identified as black/African-American, only 4 percent of respondents under 35 were of that ethnic group. Representation amongst Hispanic nurses has slightly increased, representing 15 percent of surveyed nurses under the age of 36 compared to six percent over age 55. White female nurses constitute a substantial majority (80 percent) of licensed nurses.

Nursing Degrees and Credentials

The percentage of nurses who entered their field with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) closely mirrored the percentage who entered with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), the ICN report found.

While 38 percent of respondents cited an ADN as their first level of education, only 25 percent of respondents listed an ADN as their final level of education, suggesting that many nurses go on to higher levels of education. The number of nurses who obtained a Ph.D. in nursing was only 0.6 percent. More than 88 percent of respondents said they were not currently pursuing a higher degree.

Workplace and Employment Characteristics

A significant percentage (91 percent) of ICN survey respondents said they work full time with a smaller percentage (10-15 percent) stating they work multiple jobs. The primary work environments for nurses include: hospitals (54 percent), ambulatory care (8 percent), assisted living (7 percent) and school health (4 percent). The most common job titles include: staff nurse (67 percent), nurse administrator (12 percent), patient care coordinator (5 percent) and nursing faculty (3 percent).

Within those settings, two-thirds of respondents said they provide direct care as staff nurses with the most common title being that of nurse administrator (12 percent), followed by patient care coordinator (5 percent).

Average Wages Across Specialties

The average salary for nurses in Illinois was $72,090 in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries vary by specialty. According to Registered Nurse, an online resource for nursing programs, clinical nurse managers top the pay scale in Illinois ($79,000), followed by RN first assistants ($74,000), cardiovascular operating room nurses ($73,000) and interventional radiology nurses ($72,000).

Learn about EIU’s online RN to BSN program.


Illinois Center for Nursing: Registered Nurse – Workforce Survey 2016

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017 – Registered Nurses

Illinois Nursing Workforce Center

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