How Diverse is The Nursing Industry?

Nursing is a rapidly expanding field. While there is still much progress to be made, diversity in nursing has been increasing over time in various ways.

The nursing profession is one of the most rapidly growing fields in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing industry is growing at a rate of 19% each year, which is much higher than in many other fields.

Because nursing is such a quickly expanding field, it’s not surprising to find that there is some diversity amongst the people choosing to take up this noble profession. While there is still much progress to be made, diversity in nursing has been increasing over time and in various ways. In this blog, we will take a look at exactly how varied the nursing profession truly is and delve into some of the ways in which diversity can be increased.

How Diverse is The Nursing Industry?

A Startling Statistic

87% of all Registered Nurses are Caucasian. However, as of 2014, 62% of the U.S. population was Non-Hispanic White


In 1878, 33-year-old Mary Eliza Mahoney was finally accepted into a nursing program, which opened the gates for more ethnic diversity in nursing. She had worked 15 years in a hospital before that. However, at the time, her nursing program only allowed 1 African American and 1 person of Jewish ethnicity into the class. In 1879, Mahoney became the first African American nurse in the U.S

Nursing Demographics Throughout History

The number of nurses has skyrocketed over time--from 10,000 in 1900 to 230,000 by 1930. The diversity of nurses has varied over time, overall becoming more varied, but encountering some setbacks along the way. For example, in 1910, 23% of all men self-identifying as professional nurses were African American, but by 1930, that number dropped to only 10%

Greater Diversity Over Time

In 2008, the RN population was comprised of the following demographics:

  • 83.2% Non-Hispanic white
  • 5.4% African American
  • 3.6% Hispanic
  • 5.8% Asian/Native Hawaiian
  • 0.3% American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 1.7% Multiracial nurses

Consistent Nursing Diversity in The 2000s

There are currently almost 3 million RNs in the U.S. Amongst them:

  • 87% are Caucasian
  • 4.9% (133,041) are African American
  • 3.7% (93,415) are Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 2% (54,861) are Hispanic
  • 0.5% (13,040) are American Indian or Alaska Native
  • 1.2% categorize themselves as “multiracial” (two or more races)

High Diversity Amongst Full-Time Nurses

  • 77% of Hispanic/Latino RNs are employed full-time.
  • 86% of African- American and Asian/Pacific Islander RNs are full-time.
  • 70% of Caucasian RNs are full-time employees.

Nursing Diversity in Education

In 2011, among nursing students from minority backgrounds:

  • 26.8% were enrolled in a bachelor of science in nursing programs
  • 26.1% came from master’s nursing programs
  • 23.3% were part of research-focused doctoral nursing programs

Diversity Of Nurses Who Have Masters or Doctoral Degrees

  • 11% are Black or African American
  • 10.4% are Caucasian
  • 8.4% are Hispanic


From education to ethnicity, there is certainly variety when it comes to nursing. While there is still some progress to be made, diversity in nursing has been increasing over time. At eMedCert, we are proud to support all of our country’s nurses, and that’s why we offer fully online certification courses in ACLS, BLS, and PALS. For more information on the courses we offer, visit our website today, or reach out to us.