An overview and policy implications of national nurse identifier systems: A call for unity and integration

Garrett K. Chan, Mollie R. Cummins, Cheryl S. Taylor, Betty Rambur, David I. Auerbach, Mikki Meadows-Oliver, Cindy Cooke, Emily A. Turek, Patricia (Polly) Pittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a clear and growing need to be able record and track the contributions of individual registered nurses (RNs) to patient care and patient care outcomes in the US and also understand the state of the nursing workforce. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, The Future of Nursing 2020–2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity (2021), identified the need to track nurses’ collective and individual contributions to patient care outcomes. This capability depends upon the adoption of a unique nurse identifier and its implementation within electronic health records. Additionally, there is a need to understand the nature and characteristics of the overall nursing workforce including supply and demand, turnover, attrition, credentialing, and geographic areas of practice. This need for data to support workforce studies and planning is dependent upon comprehensive databases describing the nursing workforce, with unique nurse identification to support linkage across data sources. There are two existing national nurse identifiers– the National Provider Identifier and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Identifier. This article provides an overview of these two national nurse identifiers; reviews three databases that are not nurse specific to understand lessons learned in the development of those databases; and discusses the ethical, legal, social, diversity, equity, and inclusion implications of a unique nurse identifier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101892
JournalNursing outlook
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Ethics
  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing Identifier
  • National provider identifier
  • Nurse identifier
  • Nursing workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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