November 16, 2015

Survey Says: Two-Thirds of Baby Boomer Nurses Near Retirement

A recent survey referenced by Staffing Industry Analyst confirms what many hospital administration has known for years - the silver tsunami is real, and it's looming. According to the AMN study, which featured nine thousand RN's, nearly two-thirds of registered nurses over the age of 54 are considering retirement.Of those nurses over 54 considering retirement, 62 percent are planning on retiring within the next three years. Additionally, 21 percent of nurses over age 54 plan to go part-time.Most alarming about this data: according to a 2013 study by the National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Center, more than half of current registered nurses are over 50.This presents issues, from adequate staffing in hospitals to quality of care and overall patient experience. Also, the loss of intellectual property that accompanies that degree of turnover is problematic. Nurse administrators and educators will need replacements. But with over half the nursing population over the age of 50, that's not very realistic, at least not immediately. As SIA says in its update, "the survey found that nursing education roles will be hit hard by the retirement surge, which could impact the ability to educate incoming nurses who will replace those who retire."The news means two things going forward: the United States needs more advanced nurses in its ranks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the US' need could be 526,800 more nurses by 2022. More American nurses will need to get their Bachelors, and other advanced certifications in order to ensure a healthy population of nurse educators and administration.The more progressive healthcare organizations are well ahead of this curve, offering its nurses plenty of incentives, like health sign-on bonuses, continuing education opportunities and training to advance careers. Consider this hospital in Pekin, Illinois for example. According to Sharon Woods of PekinTimes.com, they've gotten creative in their attempt to attract and retain nurses:

"We have sign on bonuses similar to what they’re doing in Peoria. We will offer up to a $10,000 sign-on bonus with a three-year commitment if you are a qualified applicant," said Pekin Hospital's assistant VP Sherry Hoffman. "We’ve also instituted some new programs. We are trying this year a four-month winter program. That’s kind of a new concept. It’s a seasonal nursing program. There may be a subset of nurses out there that would like to work during the winter months while their children are in school and have the summer off.

There's more being done at the educational level, too. Florida State University's nursing school has created an "accelerated" nursing program, described by TaMaryn Waters of Tallahassee.com as "fast-track but more intense program."While admirable, initiatives like these are going to take time to work and produce more qualified nurses.In the meantime, this data means hospitals will need long-term staffing resources to maintain safe nurse-to-patient ratios. More administration have turned to international staffing as a resolution. Foreign-trained nurses often arrive with an advantage because most are required to obtain a bachelor's degree in the first place.The numbers don't lie. The silver tsunami you've read about is very real, and apparently very close. But there are long-term, cost-effective options at your disposal.

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