Health Workforce Data

The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (NCHWA) assesses health surveys and data on the supply, use, access, need, and demand for health workers.

To help with your analysis and research, we gathered resources by the following types:

Data Policy

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)

The SOC system—a federal taxonomy—classifies workers into occupational categories. There are 840 detailed occupations in all.

We work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to ensure that the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system includes current complexities of occupations in the health sector.

Federal statistical agencies must use the SOC to collect, calculate and distribute consistent data on the U.S. workforce. The SOC Policy Committee revises the catalog approximately every 10 years.

2013 Webcast: Revising the Standard Occupational Classification

PowerPointWebcast Slides (PPT - 245 KB)

Minimum Data Sets

A Minimum Data Set provides basic, uniform, and consistent information on the health workforce. Minimum Data Sets facilitate the establishment of national databases with consistent core data elements covering demographic, educational, credentialing, and practice characteristics of health professionals.

Minimum Data Sets Created by National Boards, Councils, and Associations

  • Dental Hygenists (PDF - 45 KB) created by the American Dental Hygienist Association
  • Licensed Professional Counselors (PDF - 43 KB) created by the National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates, Inc.
  • Nurses (PDF - 61 KB) created by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers
  • Occupational Therapists (PDF - 30 KB) created by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmacists (PDF - 35 KB) created by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
  • Physical Therapists (PDF - 68 KB) created by the American Physical Therapy Association, Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistants (PDF - 70 KB)created by the nccPA Health Foundation, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants
  • Physicians (PDF - 58 KB) (allopathic and osteopathic) created by the Federation of State Medical Boards
  • Psychologists (PDF - 48 KB) created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselors (PDF - 46 KB) created by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium, NAADAC, and the Association for Addiction Professionals

These resources from our partners provide more information on the topic of Minimum Data Sets in healthcare workforce research:

Compedium of Federal Data Sources to Support Health Workforce Analysis

This compendium (PDF - 952 KB) provides a summary of 38 federal data sources that, while not established specifically to collect or present health workforce data, can be used to support health workforce analysis. The compendium helps you understand how to use these sources for health workforce analysis.

Data & Analytics

AHRF State/County Level Data Comps

The Area Health Resources Files (AHRF) contain health workforce data for every U.S. county, drawn from more than 50 sources. Included are data on:

  • health care professions
  • health professions training
  • health facilities
  • hospital utilization
  • hospital expenditures
  • population and economic statistics
  • environment
  • codes and classifications

Nursing Health Workforce Modeling Tool

The Nursing Health Workforce Modeling Tool helps you better understand the future supply of, and demand for, nurses at the national and state levels.

With the tool you can:

  • examine how many registered nurses and licensed practical nurses exist as it relates to the services they provide,
  • explore alternative scenarios by modifying key parameters such as graduation rates, and attrition and retirement rates of nurses that fit local conditions, and
  • upload data into the model, and use the results as a planning tool for recruitment and retention of the future nursing workforce.

You must register and then create an account to access the tool.


National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN)

The data from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) helps us evaluate trends and projections of the future supply of nursing resources.

The NSSRN samples and estimates the characteristics of registered nurses in the workforce. Registered nurses participating in the survey answer questions relating to their experience in the field of nursing.

National Sample Survey of Nurse Practitioners (NSSNP)

Nurse practitioners play a critical role in extending access to health care by providing a range of primary and specialty care services.

In 2012, we conducted the National Sample Survey of Nurse Practitioners (NSSNP) to provide accurate national estimates of the nurse practitioner workforce and to profile their education, certification and practice patterns.

Primary Care Service Areas

Primary Care Service Areas (PCSAs) define service areas across the U.S. and are a useful tool for analyzing the distribution of health professionals, primary care services, and access to primary care.

Primary Care Service Area Data Download – 2010

Date Last Reviewed:  October 2018