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2011 Colorado's Nurse and Nurse Aide Workforce: A Portrait

October 1, 2011

The ability of Colorado’s health care workforce to meet future patient needs will depend on a number of shifting factors that will influence the size and characteristics of the workforce and the addition of Coloradans who will be newly insured under health care reform are two factors likely to increase the need for health care services.

At the same time, the supply of primary care providers is expected to lag in relation to demand. Increased retirement rates among current practitioners, limited professional interest in primary care and restricted capacity to train new health care professionals are posing challenges to workforce expansion. National experts have examined these factors, but states, localities and institutions must do much of the planning and implementation. The Colorado Health Institute (CHI) has collected data on the health care workforce in Colorado that can help inform these planning efforts.

This report provides a portrait of one broad segment of Colorado’s health care workforce in Colorado: Certified nurse aides (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs). It synthesizes findings from three surveys conducted by CHI between 2006 and 2008. The portrait is designed to inform policymakers about the issues that shape Colorado’s current nursing and allied workforce to help them develop informed workforce plans and policies for the future. Issues addressed in this report include: expectations for employment growth; demographic and employment characteristics of the current nurse and nurse aide workforce; basic education and training experiences; job satisfaction factors and future career plans; and rural-urban differences.

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