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Age Discrimination in Nursing

Have you experienced age discrimination?

Career Nurse Beth Article   posted
Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

This writer says it exists, and it's real. Maybe you are having a hard time getting hired, or worse yet, you've lost your job for flimsy reasons. Here are some tips to help. You are reading page 2 of Age Discrimination in Nursing. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

We have to be realistic about aging. I am a very young looking 62, but left my job a year ago. I could not keep up with the corporate demands of my family practice NP practice. I think I was doing very well, but had no life outside of work due to exhaustion. Age discrimination, I'm sure. I was turned down for a job 5 years ago, I'm sure it was my age.

I think this is such an important and realistic approach. No matter how politically correct and inclusive we wish things to be slowing down is a fact of life. Nursing has a shelf-life as do many other careers such as super models, sports, construction workers etc. Its important to be cognizant and accepting of our abilities at all life stages.

I have no doubt there is discrimination or in some instances at the very least favoritism that applies to all ages, races, sexes, tattoos, piercings, hair color etc. In some ways it is a part of life especially when candidates are equal in most areas. The Powers That Be absolutely will hire the person they "like" better. Although frustrating what I try to remember is that place would not be a good fit for me anyway and move along to the next opportunity.

If my employer will foot the bill for the private school that I have applied to and flex my current working hours than I will go for it. A lot of this is for a salary increase as my current employer has told me I would get a meaningful salary increase because as an RN I would be more "marketable".

I haven't been in school for a while and do have concerns about working while doing clinical rotations. The other thing I look at is being able to work part time after retirement.

If it doesn't cost me anything and can increase my salary, what do I have to lose.

Any more pointers about keeping up with school studies or clinical rotations. I remember how hard the LVN classes were.

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes.

I think that there is a difference between age discrimination and seniority discrimination. I am an older new nurse (50ish-been a nurse for about 4 years) and I feel that my experience was an asset. What I am seeing now is that nurses that are my age that have been nurses for 25-30 years are being pushed out because they have maxed out their salaries. They are expensive. I agree there is discrimination against the younger nurses, too. I am in that weird category where I look like the more veteran nurse but am not.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

At the last hospital I worked in, there was definitely an effort to push us older nurses out. We got the worst assignments and were the first to be called into the managers' office and disciplined for minor mistakes. Eventually most of us did quit...it just wasn't worth it to fight.

Q_rnc, RN

Specializes in Maternal-Infant.

Thank you for posting your plans. I'm 57, have been a nurse for 37 years, worked all over the country, and have two graduate degrees. And I'm feeling restless and considering a PhD program vs. DNP - I love being a bedside nurse, but I also would love another intellectual challenge. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by family and friends that think school is only about "getting a job away from the bedside so you can take it easy as you get older." Aaaaaggghhhh! Yes, I am older but I'm not dead! And for me, getting older is about having more experiences, not less. And no, I don't want to jump out of an airplane, but I have flown a few. So why not get a doctorate, at any age? Best of luck in your educational endeavors!

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

I believe there is ageism. As an LVN who is 55. I have applied to get my RN doing the bridge program. I have to take 4 science classes. I have been working as an LVN for 10 years. Mostly clinical work. I now work in Occupational health.

My employer is willing to pay for my return to school. I fear age discrimination in accepting me into nursing school. I don't know how I will do but I know it will be challenging. I don't plan to do hospital work and I plan to stay at my current employer if they bump up my pay. I enjoy Occ health work as it is 75% administrative.

I don't know if I will be accepted to the school. Can anyone give me any feedback on age discrimination in being accepted into a nursing program?

I don't think there is age discrimination with getting admitted into a RN program. Money talks and colleges will take anyone that pays tuition as long as their prior grades are ok. For profit schools may even overlook bad grades in the chance of getting their hands on govt student loans.

I think the only problem might be in clinicals if your preceptor believed in stereotypes, but that could be a problem for many other reasons such as race, physical appearance and weight. This is not right or fair, but real life isn't always fair. If you to be an RN and can afford it and still be able to retire and pay the bills you have to take a chance and apply. Put your best foot forward and be proactive about proving the stereotypes wrong! Many of my coworkers become nurses as a second career as older students in their 40's to even 60+.

My hospital actually has a fair amount of older nurses and has received a reward for being older worker friendly. While another hospital system is known for laying off or driving out their older workers and have mostly young new grads. I think it is safer to have a mix of experienced nurses and not all new grads.

Good Luck!

I'm currently 60 (or as a female friend would say 30-30), although I look younger than my chronological age, and I'm more fit than any 19 year old I know, I get the stares and multiple questions about what I'm doing in nursing school from the RNs when I go on clinicals. I usually just smile, tell the truth that its something I've always wanted to do, and drive on. Ageism is real, it is not a figment of anyone's imagination. I encounter it every day but I cannot let other peoples biases stop me from pursuing my passions. If you run into a brick wall in life (ageism, racism, sexism, whatever 'ism',) and your not tough enough to knock it down, then climb it or go around it, or even under it, but don't pound your head against it because that really hurts! My pontification for the month.

Blatant! It's called no grandfathering like other careers, must get BSN. Blatant and why I'll never join the ANA.

dream'n, BSN, RN

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych.

When I was a young nurse I didn't believe that ageism really existed, at least not to the extent that older nurses said. Now that I am 40ish :rolleyes: I can say without any hesitation that ageism exists and is a bigger monster than I could have ever imagined.

OldGrayNurse

Specializes in Medicare Reimbursement; MDS/RAI.

This thread depresses me. As a 50 year old LPN of 25 years returning for the third time to finally complete an ADN, I'm wondering now, why bother?

I do have a rather "niche" job carved out in that I am an MDS nurse at an LTC facility, and can completely stay in this position with a pay increase, but what if I wanted to try something else? Guess I'd better do some thinking.

bagladyrn, RN

Specializes in OB.

I seem to have found a niche with little to no ageism: travel nursing. There's no hiding my age, it's obvious from the length of my resume. All of my interviews are on the phone, so appearance isn't a factor - they don't see my gray hairs and facial lines until I arrive. All they really want to know is if I can fill the gaps in their schedule. Many of us are older in the travel business.

My son is of the opinion that I'm going to keep doing this until I quietly keel over in the corner one night.

I find that in my workplace it is the complete opposite. I am 23 and always asked by patients/ family members about how old I am. A day doesnt fail where I recieve comments like "Youre a baby you look 14." Or " Youre too young to be a nurse." It annoys the heck out of me because I know I am competent and honeslty love what I do. I can do the same work as a nurse who is 30 or "looks older" than me. This was also true for me when I was a nurses aide- many people (staff) would try and take advantage of me because I was young. Some people would talk down to me or look at me up and down when I floated to other units as if i wasnt competent enough to fulfill my duties. So yes, age discrimination in the workplace is REAL and you would only know it if youve experienced it!

I work with much younger nurses. I am close to 50 and while I have over 20 years of experience in area of nursing, the younger nurse, who didn't have the experience to even be hired for the position was, apparently, was hired for her looks. My boss who has approx 15 years on me keeps dragging me into comments at staff meeting regarding "way back when" and keeps asking me "remember when." She also refers to the younger nurse as "eye candy." This same nurse flirts enough with our department director so much it makes me and my other (young) Co worker extremly uncomfortable. Whenever there is a post or presentation or other "education" opportunity it is offered to the younger nurse first. My boss is always falling all over herself when talking to this younger nurse. My boss also hired an extremly young (22 year old) for an ancillary position on my unit. It is a big job that this person is failing at. Ear buds in the ears all the time, punches in and is gone off the unit for 20 min while getting breakfast. Takes 1 hour lunch breaks 2 times in 8 hours. My boss is a poor judge of character. It is clear my boss likes young people around her, but while acting like a fool and dragging me into "old" status with her comments during meetings and referring to how "cute" someone is that either works there or comes in for an interview.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and this is mine. At age 70 and 40 years of vast and solid nursing experiences I feel to "hide" my life, performance and bodily changes are the epitome of the term ageism! I was recently hired for the very fact that I had superior experiences to share, but after that "younger" admin person got what she wanted for personal gain I then became an aged nurse rather than appreciated resource. The company effectively hid the fact that I was ineligible for many benefits due to my age, ie disability insurance for 6 months claiming systems and personnel resources were in flux and information was in the process of being updated. I could not attend certain family funerals because it was not a mother, father, grandparent ( all of which, for me, were already deceased).

But all that is an additional story. I wish to digress and restate, to hide who I really am, not talk about the normal process of body aches with aging and other behaviors only makes us a further victim of age discrimination.

I love/d helping patients and sharing experience with cohorts but once being proud to say I am a nurse/RN, B.S.,Psy I am disgusted with the system and in the process of leaving this industry. When I trained in the 70"s I was told "nurses eat their young" well they also kick older nurses to the side...it's now called Ageism.

I am 60 and am in LPN school second level. Go for it!!

Thanks for saying what was on my mind. These suggestions, while well-intended some of them, come across as a bit trite. Making myself "look" younger can only go so far. And it embarrasses my teen daughter to even hear me listen to her kind of music, "Mom you are too old for this!" or some sort. Women esp, who try too hard to appear younger, IMO, look pitiable, silly, and I feel a bit sorry for them. In other countries and wiser cultures, age is celebrated and revered. NOT the USA. Youth is eternally worshiped. How annoying.

I am my age and with all its warts-----so, I don't think the solution is to just tell older nurses to "try harder" or listen to more modern music, etc. but a change in attitude and trend is in order. The baby boomer generation, the most influential in decades, what say you? All I heard was "baby boomers this and baby boomers that". Where are ya now? Why is ageism such a factor when so many are in that bracket?

Frustrating to say the least and makes me dread the next decade or so. Depressing actually.

Just have to say about some of the "tips" for older nurses like "stay fit and healthy" Really? Some age related illnesses are beyond our control. Arthritis? One of the worst things for a nurse to have. Back issues from all the years of lifting and bending even if you use proper body mechanics? It is a fact of life that as we age we don't have the energy a younger person, who is not lazy, has. We don't bounce back from 12 hr shifts and night shifts. Give us a break. How about allowing older nurses to have less taxing postions if possible instead of saying things like "sit up straight", don't complain, don't even mention your reading glasses (not good to try to start and IV without them) You would think as nurses we would understand the aging process. And believe me I know about ageism. My last job was phased out and do you think a hospital is going to hire a 63 yr old as opposed to a younger nurse? Uh, no...

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

Thanks for saying what was on my mind. These suggestions, while well-intended some of them, come across as a bit trite. Making myself "look" younger can only go so far. And it embarrasses my teen daughter to even hear me listen to her kind of music, "Mom you are too old for this!" or some sort. Women esp, who try too hard to appear younger, IMO, look pitiable, silly, and I feel a bit sorry for them. In other countries and wiser cultures, age is celebrated and revered. NOT the USA. Youth is eternally worshiped. How annoying.

I am my age and with all its warts-----so, I don't think the solution is to just tell older nurses to "try harder" or listen to more modern music, etc. but a change in attitude and trend is in order. The baby boomer generation, the most influential in decades, what say you? All I heard was "baby boomers this and baby boomers that". Where are ya now? Why is ageism such a factor when so many are in that bracket?

Frustrating to say the least and makes me dread the next decade or so. Depressing actually.

I totally agree with you that women who try too hard to look younger are making a mistake. I would even go further and say that it backfires and looks desperate.

A beautiful older woman is at peace with her age, and it shows. Which is different than giving up. Any candidate can choose to sit slumped over, or to sit up straight. I would choose the latter.

The suggestion to listen to new music occasionally is not to appear young, or to copy your teen age daughter- it's to stay open-minded. It's to remember what that stage of your life was like, and to relate to the younger generation. Play with toddlers and puppies when you can as well.

Likewise, it's important to stay in tune culturally, stay up to date on technology, keep up on the news, and stay relevant in your field.

Like you, I too wish our society valued seniors more. But wishful thinking has not yet changed employer's hiring preferences. There's not much to be gained by pointing out how old you are to employers who see older age as a negative.

Older nurses who wish to remain marketable would do well to project energy and enthusiasm. I'm not sure that's trite so much as savvy.

As for myself, I value those older people who have a life time full of experience.

Like me.

I am one of them. One of those older people, a senior, a baby boomer. But still a bad*** with plenty of work life left in me.

I am not slow or dumpy. The fact is, I can run circles around a some of my younger coworkers. Many of them call out for the most minor things, headaches, tummy aches, etc. They whine of backaches all the time in their 20s! Many of them cannot tolerate any discomfort of adversity. I suppose some of it is developmental and age and stage related stuff, but really, I see a lot of whining on their parts if work or life get tough. Things I was taught to take in stride.

Personally, I never call out unless it's "dead". My work ethic is solid and my mind is open to all kinds of things. I keep up with a lot of today's goings-on, but I am never gonna "keep up with the Kardashians" and I like "some" of today's music, but not most. I keep myself clean, neat and wear tasteful make up at work. That's about as far as I am gonna go with trying to keep ageism at bay for me.

The fact I have nearly 20 years' nursing makes me worth more than the fresh-out-of-school grad, so that will probably be the excuse one day to try and push me out the door. But I won't go quietly and will make a lot of noise if and when that happens. This redhead ain't gonna take ageism lying down.

Edited by SmilingBluEyes

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I have to wonder how long it is practical for most nurses to safely work? Other professions do have guidelines. I thought this snippet was interesting and have seen a couple of older physicians who had to be asked to leave the hospital.

Aging doctors face the question of retirement - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Personally I think it is just as important to age gracefully and to me that means not just ditching the young gal skinny jeans but also being cognizant of my mental and physical limitations. Plus I have every intention of actually retiring and enjoying myself before I'm too decrepit.

riverotter

Specializes in Corrections.

I worked in hospitals for ten years before I went into Correctional Nursing, now I'm a Nurse administrator running the medical unit in my facility. I'm 55 and I have this recurring dream that I (for some unknown reason) left corrections and wanted to go back to hospital nursing and no one will hire me and now I have no job. It is scary enough as a dream, I feel so awful for anyone for whom it's true. Come work for me. I have five openings and no acceptable candidates to hire. I would welcome an older nurse with hospital experience, and corrections in NYS, it is not strenuous work. Busy, but not strenuous.

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