45 Fun & Interesting Nursing Facts

Becoming a registered nurse is the ultimate goal for a lot of men and women looking to enter the medical field. Registered nurses work directly with patients to provide care and have a wealth of knowledge and skills to offer, but there might be a few things that you didn’t know about registered nurses. Without further ado, here are 45 fun, interesting and surprising facts about registered nurses.

1. Florence Nightingale, a British nurse, and statistician, is considered to be the mother of modern nursing for her influence on how nurses were educated and viewed by society.

2. Florence Nightingale shaped the healthcare industry during the Crimean War when she introduced the concepts of hand hygiene, fresh air for patients, cleaning tools between patients, and other sanitation practices which resulted in saving many soldiers’ lives. 

3. Florence Nightingale lived from 1820 to 1910 and was born in Italy although she was raised in England. She established the first scientifically-based nursing school 1860 appropriately named the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London. 

4. The symbol for nursing is a lamp. Florence Nightingale was famous for carrying a lamp with her at night as she made her way between the tents of wounded and ill soldiers during the Crimean War, and was often referred to as “the lady with the lamp”. She also made the white nursing cap, used to hold hair back, famous and synonymous with the nursing profession. 

5. Nursing caps are now usually only worn in ceremonies, often during graduation ceremonies for new nurses to symbolize their welcome into the profession. The famous hats have stopped being worn due to the fact that they can collect microbes (bacteria and viruses) and become unsanitary. 

6. Nurses are considered one of the most trustworthy and ethical professions in the United States. In the year 2020, nurses were voted the #1 most trustworthy and ethical professionals for the 18th year in a row. The nursing profession beats out doctors, policemen, firemen, teachers, and even clergy.  

7. In the United States, the fourth week of May is National Nurses Week, and May 8th is Student Nurses Day. May 12 is Florence Nightingale’s birthday which is International Nurses Day. 

8. On average, nurses walk four to five miles during a 12-hour shift. For comparison, most Americans only walk two to three miles during an 18-hour day. 

9. The most common work-related injury reported by nurses is back pain and injuries caused by the lifting and moving of patients. 

10. The first nursing school in the United States was established in 1873 in New York City. Bellevue City Hospital’s nursing program was one year long and was based on the principles of nursing set-forth by Florence Nightingale.  The New England Hospital for Women and Children’s nursing program was opened shortly after.  

11. About 40% of nurses don’t work in hospitals. Other places that nurses work, besides hospitals, are outpatient clinics, schools, home health care clinics, health departments, insurance companies, occupational health clinics, law offices, nursing and long-term care centers, and telehealth centers.  

12. Nurses can work in virtually any health care specialty, and there are 104 different specialties for nurses to choose from. Nurses are found in pediatrics, obstetrics, critical care, mental health, surgery, special procedures, infusion centers, and wound care to name a few. 

13. Nurses can work in other industries that are not patient care focused. Other popular industries are health insurance, writing, business, and informatics.  

14. All nurses must pass the NCLEX in order to practice as a registered nurse. The exam is standardized across all of the states in the U.S. and assesses basic competency for practice.  

15. The NCLEX exam is different for everyone. The exam can be between 75 and 265 questions long and pulls from a bank of thousands of questions.  

16. As of October 2020, the pass rate for the NCLEX was 74.73%.

17. Many nurses earn master’s and doctorate degrees to become advanced practice nurses, teach in nursing programs, and perform nursing research.  

18. There are currently more than 996 baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States.   

19. Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD, is consistently ranked as having the #1 MSN, DNP, and online nursing programs in the United States.  

20. Nurses can work in law firms! Registered nurses and advanced practice nurses can earn a Legal Nurse Consultant certificate and work with lawyers as part of a litigation team. Legal Nurse Consultants can also work as an independent contractor and work with many law firms. These nurses serve as expert witnesses and review medical charts.  

21. Nurses can join the military. The U.S. Army Nurse Corps was created in 1901 as part of the U.S. Army Medical Department.  

22. During World War II, more than 59,000 nurses served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.  

23. Most of the women (90%) who served in the Vietnam War were Army and Navy nurses. 

24. Nurses can also serve in the military in the Navy and Air Force branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

25. Registered nurses can either have an associate’s degree (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree (BSN). However, according to a survey in 2018 performed by the AACN, 46% of employers require new hire nurses to have a bachelor’s degree.

26. Nursing is the largest health care profession. According to the AACN, there are 3.8 registered nurses in the nation.  

27. Nursing is a fast-growing profession. The federal government predicts that 200,000 new nursing jobs will be created each year between 2016 and 2026. That’s 2 million nursing positions! 

28. Registered nurses’ salaries depend on many factors and vary across the country. How much a nurse is paid largely depends on their experience, where they work, the specialty they work in, which shift they work, the level of education (BSN versus AND), and any special certifications earned.  

29. As of 2020, California is the best-paying state for nurses to work in with an average hourly wage of $54.44, and an annual average salary of $113,240. South Dakota is the lowest paying state with an average hourly wage of $28.63, and an annual average salary of $59,540. 

30. There are more than three times the amount of nurses in the United States than there are physicians.  

31. There is a great need for nurses to earn advanced degrees, such as masters and doctoral degrees. In 2018, only 17.1% of nurses had master’s degrees and 1.9% of nurses earned doctoral degrees.  

32. There are two types of doctoral nursing degrees that nurses can earn, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. DNP degrees are nursing practice-focused and often earned by nurse practitioners. Ph.D. degrees are research and philosophy-focused and typically earned by nurses who want to teach nursing at a variety of levels and/or conduct research.  

33. Registered nurses can become advanced practitioners who see their own patients, make medical diagnoses, and prescribe medication. Advanced practice nurses (APN’s) must earn a master’s degree and pass the credentialing examination to earn a license.  

34. As of August 2020, there were more than 290,000 nurse practitioners (APN’s) in the United States. Of those, 89.7% work in primary care. 

35. Travel nurses get paid to work all over the country through travel nursing agencies. Travel nurses can accept assignments in all 50 states and contracts generally range from 4-13 weeks long. When these nurses are not working, they can sightsee and meet new people. Travel nursing is a great way to make lifelong friends and gain both professional and personal experiences. 

36. Travel nursing can be incredibly lucrative. Most agencies provide sign-on bonuses, pay for housing and food expenses, and get reimbursed for travel expenses.  

37. Travel nurses are needed for virtually any specialty. From OR to PACU, critical care to med-surg, and pediatrics to labor and delivery, if travel nursing interests you there is most likely a position for you too.  

38. The first documented travel nurses were present in the late 1970s when nurses were brought to New Orleans specifically to help care for the surge of people present for Mardi Gras.  

39. As of October 2020, there were more than 4 million registered nurses in the United States. The average age of those nurses is 47.9 years old and almost half of the nurses (47.5%) are aged 50 and older. 

40. Men are a growing portion of nurses in the United States. In 2018, men made up 9.6% of the total nursing population which was an increase from 7.1% in 2008.  

41. Registered nurses can become nurse anesthetists by attending a doctoral graduate nurse anesthetists program. These programs are four years long, and usually require at least two years of adult critical care experience prior to admittance into a program. In 2015 there were 115 accredited nurse anesthetist programs in the United States.  

42. The average yearly salary for nurse anesthetists was $181,040 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

43. Nurse midwives practice independently and are licensed to prescribe medications and provide women’s reproductive health and childbirth care.    

44. Nurses can be midwives by obtaining a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery from an accredited program. In 2019 there were 38 such programs in the United States. 

45. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, in 2019 there were approximately 12,400 nurse-midwives in the United States.

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Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads is a registered nurse and a nurse educator. She earned a BSN from Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing and an MS in nursing education from Northern Illinois University. Jenna earned a PhD in education with a concentration in nursing education from Capella University where she researched the moderation effects of emotional intelligence on the relationship of stress and GPA in military veteran nursing students.