The State of Nursing in California

State of nursing in California

Nurses who earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) have the potential to advance their careers and earn a high income. A BSN also puts nurses on track to apply to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program, which can make them eligible for even more positions. Online programs allow you the flexibility to work while completing your degree. With all of the good news about the strong demand for nurses, why is the per capita ratio of registered nurses (RN) in California substantially lower than the national average?

What Is Going On Nationally in Nursing?

Yes, there is a deficit of nurses, but it varies depending on geographic location. The real problem is the distribution of nurses across the country, though both rural and urban areas are affected by the nursing shortage.

Other contributors to the nursing shortage include a lack of new graduates to fill the vacancies left by the large number of nurses starting to retire. Compounding the disparity are an insufficient number of nurse educators and a reduction in budgets, classroom space and clinical sites.

Is There a Nursing Shortage in California?

California’s patient population continues to grow and the number of nurses is not keeping pace with the demand. The RN-to-patient ratio in 2013 was 657 for every 100,000 patients, whereas the national average was 874 RNs per 100,000.

According to the 2012 United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast, only two states in the U.S. show a projected surplus of nurses in 2030. They are Massachusetts and South Dakota. California is expected to be short 193,000 nurses during the same year. Massachusetts and South Dakota received an A for their efforts to maintain an ideal nurse-to-patient ratio. California received a grade of D because it still needs to do more to ensure an adequate supply of nurses.

Much like the nursing shortage throughout the country, California’s dilemma is multifaceted. Poor and rural regions experience shortages because nurses are not looking for jobs there. The more populous places tend to have an excess of nursing applicants, so employers are stricter about preparation and experience, which leads to a glut of unemployed nurses.

What Is the Overview of Nursing in California?

The March 2014 article California Nurses: Taking the Pulse published in the California Health Care Almanac reported key findings about the condition of nursing in the state. They included the following 2012 statistics:

  • The nursing workforce has become more diverse, with 47 percent of nurses being non-white.
  • One in five RNs were educated outside of the U.S.
  • Hospital acute care facilities employed 56 percent of the RNs in the workforce, while 8 percent worked in hospital ambulatory care.

What Is the Employment and Salary Data for Nurses in California?

the average annual nursing salary in California is $101,750

The most recent employment and salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) about nurses in California is from 2016. The BLS ranks California as the top-paying state for nursing with an annual mean wage of $101,750. The number of employed nurses was 274,650.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division was second on a list of metropolitan areas in the country with the highest rate of employment. In addition, the ten top-paying metropolitan areas in the U.S. were all in California.

How Many Nurses In California Pursue a BSN and Complete the Program?

The 2014-2015 California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) School Report used information from 142 pre-licensure nursing programs to compile facts about students pursuing a BSN. Here are the study findings:

  • 36 BSN nursing programs in California.
  • 10,196 students applied to a BSN program.
  • 5,510 students enrolled in a BSN program during the 2014-2015 academic year.
  • 12,332 was the total number of students in 2015 BSN programs.
  • 4,860 students completed a BSN degree program for the 2014-2015 academic year.

California has to recruit more nurses to work in underserved parts of the state. Additionally, aspiring nursing students should know the importance of taking prerequisites like microbiology and statistics in high school so they meet the requirements necessary for acceptance into a BSN program. Furthermore, nurses should be encouraged to become educators, and nursing schools have to explore ways to increase budgets, expand classroom sizes and add clinical facilities.

Learn about the CSUSM online RN to BSN program.


California Board of Registered Nursing 2014-2015 Annual School Report

California Health Care Foundation: California Nurses: Taking the Pulse

Working Nurse: The Nursing Shortage Paradox in California

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Running Out of Nurses

California Health Care Foundation: A Few (More) Good Nurses

University of Nebraska — Lincoln: United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016 — Registered Nurses

Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.

Request Information
*All fields required.
or call 844-221-5368