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Shortage of nurses? See how your state ranks against its peers.

By Chris Nichols

Shedding light on your state's nurses per capita and how it stacks up to the rest of the U.S.


Thanks to the British Journal of Anaesthesia, we know that hospitals with lower mortality rates have 24% more nurses.  However, the divide between states with enough nurses & hospital beds has become a huge talking point since the onset of COVID-19.  

Data is data.  No matter how we slice and dice this data or visualize it through fancy graphs, the information can be seen in so many different forms.  Is it good?  Is it bad?  We are here merely to share and distribute data, rather than attempting to make assumptions on entire states.  We understand that each state has an intricate population with urban centers and vast rural areas.

We are interested in hearing how this information applies to you, your states and how it applies.  Leave comments below or send me an email at cnichols@endevis.com.

Registered Nurses Per Capita

While many of our less populated states skew toward the top of Registered Nurses per capita, states such as New York and Ohio also rank inside the top third of the list.  District of Columbia (which is difficult to see on the map), Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska, North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, and Massachusetts all have more than 20 RNs per 1000 citizens.RNs Per Capita

As you can see, western states such as California, Utah, Arizona, and Idaho along with Texas, Virginia, and Georgia all rank in the bottom 7 states for RNs per capita.  The average number of RNs per capita is 17.4

Licensed Nurses per Capita

While Registered Nurses get much of the attention, the shortage of LPNs in our country is very damaging to our ability to effectively staff Skilled Nursing Facilities.  Using the same calculation for LPNs, we see that while Washington D.C. has upwards of 39 RN per 1000 people, Louisiana leads the pack for LPNs with just under 5 per 1000.

LPNs per Capita

As you can see from the above map, many southern states like Arkansas & Mississippi rank near the top of the charts for LPNs per capita as well as more heavily populated states such as Ohio, New York, & Pennsylvania.  Utah, Alaska, & New Mexico rank at the very bottom.  The average number of LPNs per capita comes in at 2.89.

Hospital Beds per Capita

COVID-19 has brought many conversations about the number of hospital beds that could be needed in a pandemic.  With more than 55% of all RNs working in hospitals, our team felt it necessary to also show just how many hospital beds your state has in comparison to its population. 

Hospital Beds per Capita

As you can see, some of our least populated states are doing well to provide more hospitals than their larger counterparts.  West Virginia, Wyoming, Mississippi, and the Dakotas make up the top 5 states with Connecticut, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, New York, and California ranking at the very bottom with .67 beds per 1000 or fewer.  The average number of hospital beds per 1000 people was 1.09.

RNs per 100 Hospital Beds

While many of the states we see above that come in with very few hospital beds per capita, that script gets flipped when we look at their number of RNs per Hospital Bed.  States such as Connecticut (1) and Oregon (9) both rank inside the top 10 alongside other northeastern states like Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and Delaware all of which perform less than favorably on their bed totals.  Only Washington D.C. performs exceptionally well in this group for both beds and RNs.  The average number of of RNs per 100 hospital beds was 17.4

RNs Per Hospital Bed

LPNs per Skilled Nursing Bed

More than 1/3 of all LPNs work in Skilled Nursing and we feel that it is important to note which states seemingly have "enough" in comparison to their peers while also respecting the significant shortage we face nationwide.

LPN per SNF Bed

Alaska is a clear outlier in this category, primarily because the entire state only has 345 Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) beds.  However, states that perform poorly for RNs per capita like California and Virginia rank 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Idaho ranks dead last with just 12.99 LPNs per 100 SNF beds is followed by Alabama, Rhode Island, Utah, and Iowa in the bottom five.  The average number of LPNs per 100 SNF beds is 60.69.

What does all of this mean?

This data is meant to purely be a conversation starter.  A means to look into the future and understand where your organization may begin to see shortfalls or find opportunities to maximize resources.  At endevis, we believe it is vitally important to understand how this data affects your talent planning and what can be done to ensure your organization is an employer of choice.

If you would like to see this data, please contact Chris Nichols at cnichols@endevis.com or 615.280.8047.  

Huge thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau and The National Nursing Database for much of the information that can be found in this blog. 



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Tags: Human Resources, COVID-19, Talent Acquisition