Should a staff nurse’s age be a consideration in making patient and shift assignments?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan A. Letvak, Professor, Department Chair, & Undergraduate Programs Director (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: I think it is entirely appropriate to consider a nurse’s age in making assignments. The mean age of staff nurses is now well over 40, and many aging nurses have concerns about their own health and safety as well as the health and safety of their patients (Yox, 2004). Numerous reports point to a deepening nursing shortage, which is unlikely to reverse as other shortages have in the past. Therefore, it is imperative that we not only recruit new people into nursing, but that we also retain our older, more experienced nurses in the workforce. Statistics, however, show that many nurses leave the workforce entirely between the ages of 50 to 55. The demands of shift work, high patient-to-nurse ratios, increasing patient acuity, and flat wage structures that fail to reward years of experience have left older nurses with little reason to stay in the nursing work-force. It is not unusual to hear aging nurses talk about being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated (Yox, 2004). To stem the tide of nurses who retire “before their time,” it is crucial to recognize the importance of these clinical experts and give consideration to their age and their longevity in the profession when assigning them to patient care. For instance, providing nursing staff positions that require less on-call, shift, weekend, and holiday work and reduced patient care loads could be viewed as incentives for remaining in the profession and be used effectively to retain aging nurses.

Additional Information

The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 30(2), 84
Language: English
Date: 2005
Nurse's age, Nursing shortage, Patient assignments, Shift assignments, Older nurse retention

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