Older nurses

  1. 4 I notice that most nurses now are younger rather than older (less than 35 years old). Where have all the older nurses gone? Do they tend to work in certain units at your hospital or work in clinics?
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  2. 44 Comments

  3. by   nutella
    #1 34
    Quote from poopylala
    I notice that most nurses now are younger rather than older (less than 35 years old). Where have all the older nurses gone? Do they tend to work in certain units at your hospital or work in clinics?

    From my observation of working as a nurse for more than 20 years and now moving towards the age of 50 I find that most nurses on high traffic/ high workload floors including med/surg and all intermediate care units tend to be of a younger age as you have already observed.

    It seems to change when you look at areas that are "less crazy" and offer better work conditions including critical care areas, PACUs, intervention areas.
    In the major teaching hospitals, older nurses also gravitated towards the night shift if working on a medsurg or stepdown floor.

    Why is this happening?

    First of all, many nurses used to move towards shifts that would accommodate their family /family planning better and that used to be night shifts for many or evenings etc. - a lot of them like their arrangement and do not wish to go back to the busier day shifts.

    Secondly, some nurses plainly drop out of the hospital once they have family because they are looking for something that fits their lifestyle better.
    Thirdly, we are not getting younger....

    Fourthly, you discover that the hospital is not the "holy grail" and look into other options that do not require nights and weekends - which tends to be not the hospital environment unless you have a special position or agreement.

    I can say that when I got older and got past 35 I noticed that I felt less energetic but also less likely to put up and accept bad working conditions. I became more critical of the way management treats their nurses and asked questions pertaining to how quality of care, workload/support/staffing, and health/satisfaction of myself interfaces. Once it became more important for me to have a job that enables me to do my best work/ quality instead of just pushing the numbers of admissions and discharges on the busy floors with constant running/multitasking/ punitive hospital culture/ unhealthy working climate I took action.

    It became less important for me to put the "big names" on my resume because by that time I had already enough work experience in different areas of "big name" hospitals and instead focused on what is important to me now. I also was in the position to take a risk with starting a new job. For some nurses it is more important to suffer through the status quo because they depend on the specific job due to money or arrangements. For me it was more important not to get burned out by the giant churning machine...

    It seems that most nurses who want to keep their sanity look to leave the bedside after a few years - favorite places are case management, management (if one is inclined to move over to the dark side..), administration, areas with less patients to take like critical care/PACU....

    For a while, home care was also very popular but now it is basically the same craziness as hospital nursing - only that your trunk is full of supplies, you drive around and see one patient at a time. The documentation requirements are crazy.
    Last edit by Joe V on May 18 : Reason: spacing
  4. by   Davey Do
    #2 35
    Quote from poopylala
    Where have all the older nurses gone?
    Isn't that an old Peter, Paul, and Mary Song?

    flowers-png
  5. by   dream'n
    #3 2
    Quote from nutella
    From my observation of working as a nurse for more than 20 years and now moving towards the age of 50 I find that most nurses on high traffic/ high workload floors including med/surg and all intermediate care units tend to be of a younger age as you have already observed.
    It seems to change when you look at areas that are "less crazy" and offer better work conditions including critical care areas, PACUs, intervention areas.
    In the major teaching hospitals, older nurses also gravitated towards the night shift if working on a medsurg or stepdown floor.

    Why is this happening?
    First of all, many nurses used to move towards shifts that would accommodate their family /family planning better and that used to be night shifts for many or evenings etc. - a lot of them like their arrangement and do not wish to go back to the busier day shifts.
    Secondly, some nurses plainly drop out of the hospital once they have family because they are looking for something that fits their lifestyle better.
    Thirdly, we are not getting younger....
    Fourthly, you discover that the hospital is not the "holy grail" and look into other options that do not require nights and weekends - which tends to be not the hospital environment unless you have a special position or agreement.

    I can say that when I got older and got past 35 I noticed that I felt less energetic but also less likely to put up and accept bad working conditions. I became more critical of the way management treats their nurses and asked questions pertaining to how quality of care, workload/support/staffing, and health/satisfaction of myself interfaces. Once it became more important for me to have a job that enables me to do my best work/ quality instead of just pushing the numbers of admissions and discharges on the busy floors with constant running/multitasking/ punitive hospital culture/ unhealthy working climate I took action.
    It became less important for me to put the "big names" on my resume because by that time I had already enough work experience in different areas of "big name" hospitals and instead focused on what is important to me now. I also was in the position to take a risk with starting a new job. For some nurses it is more important to suffer through the status quo because they depend on the specific job due to money or arrangements. For me it was more important not to get burned out by the giant churning machine...

    It seems that most nurses who want to keep their sanity look to leave the bedside after a few years - favorite places are case management, management (if one is inclined to move over to the dark side..), administration, areas with less patients to take like critical care/PACU....
    For a while, home care was also very popular but now it is basically the same craziness as hospital nursing - only that your trunk is full of supplies, you drive around and see one patient at a time. The documentation requirements are crazy.
    I completely agree. While working in the hospital I saw I was one of the oldest around. And my body told me the same thing. I left to do non acute psych.
  6. by   RNperdiem
    #4 3
    I once went to a conference for OR and PACU nurses. I work in ICU, but am interested in moving to one of those areas in the future. I quickly noticed that at 40, I was one of the younger people there.
    There are a few lifelong night shift older nurses in med surg and ICU. Night shift tends to be less visible to people. As someone else mentioned, procedural nursing like VIR and GI procedures tend to have older nurses. I am not sure about home health, but the hospice nurses who work with my Dad are all over 45.
  7. by   dream'n
    #5 2
    I once heard that PACU is the place that older nurses go to stay until retirement. That it is great for older, experienced critical care/ER nurses.
  8. by   Libby1987
    #6 2
    Average age is still about 50. Where do you work that you notice the nurses to be younger?
  9. by   poopylala
    #7 1
    Quote from Libby1987
    Average age is still about 50. Where do you work that you notice the nurses to be younger?
    Texas a medical center in Houston but really all the hospitals I did clinicals in around Houston had younger nurses. Mostly saw 23-35 year olds if even
  10. by   Purple_roses
    #8 40
    I don't know the answer to this question, but I DO know that you just opened a can of giant mutant worms the moment you defined "old" as over 35.
    Last edit by Purple_roses on May 18
  11. by   NurseSpeedy
    #9 14
    Quote from poopylala
    Texas a medical center in Houston but really all the hospitals I did clinicals in around Houston had younger nurses. Mostly saw 23-35 year olds if even
    Are you sure they are really that age? I'm not not meaning anything bad when I ask it's just that a lot of people do not look their age. In order to keep up with the pace of a busy floor, one must take care of themselves or they won't last.
    I've been a nurse for 16 years. Now, anyone can do the math and realize that I have to at least be a minimum age. A common question patients will ask me is "How long have you been a nurse?". After I respond the most common question to follow is, "What? HOW OLD ARE YOU?". When I tell them and the math does in fact add up they state that I don't look a day over 25...When I first began my nursing career (and for the next five or so years after) the question wasn't how long I had been a nurse but rather the statement, "You don't look old enough to be a nurse".

    I'm just saying, things aren't always what they appear. Oh, and PLEASE don't think of 35 as old! Looking at the way things are going I'll be dragging my walker to work when I'm 70+, totally pimping out my scrubs with a yellow fall risk bracelet and awesome yellow socks. Just assign me to strictly video monitored rooms and I am all set to go! (I will refuse the chair alarm to let the younger nurses know to check on me because I got up from my sear after charting).
  12. by   SobreRN
    We fled hospital nursing.
  13. by   SobreRN
    #11 2
    Hahaha and yes, I remember this song!
  14. by   poopylala
    #12 6
    First off, I definitely do not think 35+ is "old" lol I'm not far behind in age myself. I drew a line at 35 to be the equatorial line in age groups. I see and have met mostly under 35 yo nurses in the other hospitals I worked in or did clinicals in. I know people can look younger but in this case, I'm asking about the lack of obviously mature/older nurses because the nurses I worked with last night also said they haven't seen older nurses anymore and they're in their 40s+. That conversation is what prompted me to post here.

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