West Virginia Center for Nursing releases 2021 data as part of efforts to strengthen state’s nursing workforce

CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Center for Nursing has released Registered Nurse (RN) and Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse (APRN) supply data for 2021. This information will allow the state to assess the strength of West Virginia’s nursing workforce and inform stakeholders as they continue planning around nursing workforce development.

West Virginia currently has 29,817 RNs and 4,692 APRNs licensed in the state (using highest licensure available; APRNs during this award year were also required to hold an RN license).

“The Center aggregates these data on a yearly basis and has developed a consistent timeline for its collection and dissemination that will be used going forward,” said Gerald Bragg, chair of the West Virginia Center for Nursing Board of Directors. “This information provides the public and stakeholders with vital information about the current state of the nursing workforce in West Virginia and offers areas where we can improve.”

Through its collaboration with the West Virginia RN Board, the Center aggregated data and created data dashboards that are available for public use. These dashboards provide information about nurses working in the state including basic demographics, education levels, employment status, employment settings, employment specialties, employment locations, and additional details.

The Center’s new database compares 2020 and 2021 data to examine trends. In addition to this comparison, the Center has also developed two new data visualizations to allow for more in-depth examination of trends; one to examine supply data variables by employment position and setting and another to examine supply data variables of among new licensees.

These new data visualizations provide nursing workforce planners an opportunity to examine trends among specific subsets of the nursing workforce. By collecting these data each year in the same time frame, the Center looks forward to building on these data dashboards to allow for trend analysis over time.

Key takeaways from the new data include the following:

  • While the number of RNs licensed in West Virginia has decreased by 1.6% from 2020-2021, the number of RNs working in West Virginia has increased by 2% during the same period.

What this means: Efforts made by nursing workforce planners are working to increase the number of nurses working in the state. Such efforts include expanding nursing programs, recruiting out of state nurses to come to West Virginia, and encouraging those whose licenses have lapsed to re-enter nursing.

  • More than 13.6% of nurses licensed in West Virginia work in the contiguous states of PA, OH, VA, KY, and MD.

What this means: The state should consider additional ways to retain nurses in West Virginia and recruit out-of-state nurses who are already licensed in West Virginia to join the state’s nursing workforce.

  • Among RNs and APRNs working in West Virginia, the percentage of RNs and APRNs under 50 years of age grew from 63% in 2020 to 65% in 2021. During the same period, the percentage of those 51 years of age or older fell from 37.3% in 2020 to 35.2% in 2021.

What this means: Efforts to encourage new nurses to enter the nursing workforce as the nursing workforce ages have started to see returns. Replacement of nurses entering retirement is essential to ensuring continuity of care within the healthcare system of the state.

  • The share of baccalaureate degree-prepared nurses continues to grow, increasing 1.21% in 2021. Additionally, when comparing entry nursing education to highest nursing education, at least 411 nurses working in West Virginia have completed RN-BSN programs compared to 256 in 2020.

What this means: Nurses are continuing to advance their education and skillsets through higher education, helping to further patient safety and quality outcomes for the citizens of West Virginia.

To view the RN and APRN Tableau Data Dashboards and the Center’s other data sets, visit https://wvcenterfornursing.org/data-reports/ and click through the “Supply and Compensation Dashboards.”

The West Virginia Center for Nursing, which is housed within the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission, leads strategies to support the education, recruitment, and retention of nurses in West Virginia.