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Ageism in Nursing: A Pervasive Problem

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Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

As the nursing workforce continues to age, it is imperative that age discrimination becomes a relic of the past. We must retain our older and most expert nurses. Their skills and contributions should be valued and celebrated. You are reading page 3 of Ageism in Nursing: A Pervasive Problem. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Does any of my fellow older nurses reading this thread know of any areas of nursing that would be more receptive to older nurses or which areas of nursing that are predominantly older nurses, more or less our domain?

Does any of these younger nursing"professionals" or the administrative power that be( CEO's, DON's) reading this thread have a problem with an older nurse having to grapple with whether or not one is poverty level or not, like the poster above. That is a disgrace, that should not be- what is wrong with 'Nursing'? It's time "Nursing" as a "Profession" took a step back and did some "Reflective" analysis of itself( since Nursing like to throw around trendy catch phrases. which I question do they really know their meaning)! And start critically thinking about it's Nursing doctrine/theory/discipline and taking stock into "is Nursing really emulating it's own teachings, fundamentals and ethics", "Nursing is supposed to make attempts to intervene into a patient at the poverty level- the homeless, vulnerable populations( do I really need to spell our what they are for the CEO's and DON's) and set that patient up with appropriate resources- social service, case managment, but refuse and are blind and dumb when it comes to Nursings own"?? I don't get the hypocracy and blatent stupididy,failure aka neglegence on the part of those in those positions.

Nursing ( nurses) are to apply nursing knowledge to a patient in poverty or on the verge of while in the hospital bed- no money for medication, homeless, no transportation on dischage, which should prompt a social service or case managment referral. And we all go home at the end of shift feeling we did our good job. Public health/community health/home health goes out to the patient on home visits to make sure the patient is able to utilize the tools( a nursing trendy catch phase again) set up for them- the access to care and assist in over coming barriers. But it seems Nursing can not "conceptualize"( another trendy nursing catch phrase) and apply these same principals to it's own members! What's wrong with that picture?? This is why I question of Nursing administrations should not have their Nursing licenses taken from them- they fail to apply the nursing prinicpals to thoses not wearing the patient ID- other nurses. There is an impedment to their nursing judgement- the parasitic relationship and emeshment of money driven doctrine( pretty name=business) clouding prudent nursing judgement and ethics of their Nursing Practice act "Do No harm". CEO's have a responsiblity in this also- they are collecting big bucks for poor job performance and are capable of knowing better( no matter what the educational backround) but choose not to- malpractice.

Edited by kcmylorn

HM-8404, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma. Has 8 years experience.

All of you will be subjected to what I experienced, if Romney achieves his (the Republican Party's) purchase of the Presidency! Getting this medical program took over 50 years. Can you wait that long after the ACA is abolished if this happens, and efforts to redo it go to committee after committee, and is rejected over and over again??

Ummm... You think a company fires an older employee because of insurance costs? I don't suppose you considered the fact that they pay a group rate based on the number of employees, not how old you are. If your line of thinking made sense no company would hire a female between the ages of 18-30 because about 95% of them will be having babies during that time.

Let me see if I got this right, you were fired by a company due to your age, and after that found 8 more companies willing to hire you because they didn't know your age, or a close approximation? Was there no interview process with these 8 other companies? These 8 companies then subsequently fired you when they discovered your age? Sounds like perhaps there may have been other factors in play with that.

Before you start singing the praises of the ACA I suggest you wait until it goes fully in effect in 2016, and see what happens. Unless you think Obama is the first US President in history that is not a lying politician. Based on the past 3 1/2 years that would be hard to believe.

ACA goes into in effect in 2014. It states all will have/ obtain health insurance based in ones ability to pay/income. Sliding scale fees, in effect mostly now. What's not to understand

If one can afford the full policy rate based on ones income. Then that is what one will pay. Will need paystubs as proof.

State exchanges will be set up- some states already have these exchanges in place. Insurance companies - Blue Cross/BlueSheild( called: MHP of what ever state), United healthcare( calls it: community and state), Americhoice( I am not familar with their "brand'). These are HMO's or managed cares. And based on where you fit in income wise- that is the company you are 'assigned' to.

These policies are given at a discounted rate based on ones ability to pay; need a paystub as proof of income or lack of.. If a patient is unemployed and collects unemployment, need the unemplyment stub as proof, they are paying a discounted insurance premimum fee based on their unemployment income( a sliding scale)- could be $50/month could be $100/mo etc. there are co-pays: again based on the patient's income- $10/visit to primary, $20/visit etc. If the patient is working a minimum wage job or any job, which is what is happening now( many people are taking any job they can find, are overqualified for the jobs they found and are working and it pays more than unemployment and were part of the unemployment numbers), where no insurance/health benefits are offered- they too qualify for this. I believe employers, through the ACA, are being given incentives to participate in offering employees in these jobs health care bene's, in the form of being participants in the reduced rate plans. Bottom line: Less of a drain on the states charity care and medicaid because that is the other alternative if no ACA.

Here is where my skeptism comes in- but it is not with the ACA, it is with the insurance companies. If these insurance companies can afford( and profit) to offer discounted insurance plans/ why have they, in the past and continue to charge other individuals a higher rate. How about, that is called the amounts of profit margin in the insurance industry!! These insurance rates have been negotiable for YEARS, long before ACA! This is not new with the ACA. When a patient with example BC/BS is hospitalized, the hospital contracts/negotiates with the insurance company to reimburse at set rate. That insurance company still makes a profit or they wouldn't do it!!

If one doesn't qualify and can not afford any of the above plans- They can go to the "free clinics either public health or hospital owned, or at a private community based health center/ clinic. If they go to the private owned CBHC- they are "self Pay"- they go to the primary and are self pay/out of pocket. The fee for the visit is determined based on what the patient can pay for that visit- could be $10; could be $60.

If they need to go to the hospital then it's charity care- which is a state fund, and an account set up for a patient at a certain hospital, meaning: that patient has met with the financial councelors at Hospital A, if that patient has charity care set up at hospital A, then if that patient 'needs' to go to the hospital, that patient goes to hospital A not hospital B. An active MI needs to go to the hospital- they go to hospital A where their account is set up. 'Needs to go" is not an 'elective' knee replacement does not "need" to go to the hospital/surgery. Charity care will not pay for the elective hospitalization or the surgery.

Medicaid one must qualify for. it is my understanding that if an adult qualifies for medicaid- that patient will only receive medicaid for 5 years. and then they are dropped if they do not requalify. Children are different- the state has Children's funding(CHIPS) in place up until the child is 18yr old.

IMHO, ACA is a way to control, if not stop, the price goughing by the insurance companies and those astronomical premiums that have priced people out of health care. If the insurance companies can afford to offer lower cost plans now with ACA( ordered by law), what the h*** were they doing all these years??? Why were so many people in this country without insurance, neglected their health until it was so bad they needed the expensive ED, thus admissions to ICU or were running to the ED for garbage complaints!!! I think ACA is the axe that feel on these big profits and people dying and mamed needless in the name of money.

Check out the federal Dept of Health and Human Services website: i think i read that people who paid those higher premium rates will be receiving a rebate.

ACA has other issues addressed: can not drop for chronic disease states, charging or denials for pre exisitng, college age kids on parents policies until age 26.

Edited by kcmylorn
more info

HM-8404, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma. Has 8 years experience.

When a patient with example BC/BS is hospitalized, the hospital contracts/negotiates with the insurance company to reimburse at set rate. That insurance company still makes a profit or they wouldn't do it!!

You have this backwards... If the hospitals and doctors accept lower payments that helps the ins. companies save money. The hospitals are getting less money. The hospitals make it up in volume.

When ins. companies are forced to lower their rates they will be subsidized by the govt. This is why so many talk about the US not being able to afford this law. Part of the subsidization will come from the $500 Billion dollars that will be taken out of Medicare.The rest will not be paid solely by those that choose to pay the fine rather than get insurance.They are estimating only 1% of Americans will choose that option.


Specializes in OB, HH, ADMIN, IC, ED, QI.

Yes, you read my post as I wrote it. The 8 positions I attained, all held interviews with me and hired me based on that. My experience and education is backed by the enthusiasm I showed for the job and my determination to do it well.

I too, wouldn't have believed that what happened was due to my age, had not a close friend, who owned her own business and whose husband's premium increased by $1,000/month more than their other employees' premiums, by their insurance company (Blue Cross/ Blue Shield) when he attained 55 years of age (over 20 years ago). Then, when he was 65 years old, the premium was increased by $2,500 / month for him. He was told that Medicare could not be his primary insurerthen! My friend suggested to me that my problems keeping employed, could be due to my age,

This hasn't been your parents' scene with equally packaged premiums,

for decades!

Regarding your cynical view of politicians lying, I have to agree that many do. However the transparency afforded by zealous media dirt diggers today, leaves each politician's words open to enhanced scrutiny. Lies told by President Obama's opponent were blatant attempts to discredit him, yet knowing that doesn't seem to affect GOP supporters. They may be bigoted or so paranoid about any tax

increase (although hardly a drop in their megabuck buckets) that isn't across the board, is a personal threat.

The amassing of billions of dollars by corporations (who are represented as people by the GOP), that outspenda the coffers for Barack Obama is just part of their game.We all saw how slanted

untruths in the tobacco company backed, misleading TV ads affected

voters who somehow didn't realize that the tax would affect only those who buy cigarettes! Let's not see that kind of thing happen in the Presidential election in November!!!

I've spoken to Coloradans whose absentee ballots were nullified after they didn't cast them in mid term 2010 elections. They were unaware that the Secretary of State there (a Republican) did that, and they were outraged. That is called "caging" of votes, and forms of that happen all over this country (think of those African Americans in FLA who were stopped by police, from reaching their polling places before they closed, in the 2004 Presidential election......) That allowed the

electoral college to supersede the popular vote, and the Supreme

Court even supported that, which is why George "W" Bush had a second term as President, to our detriment.

Now we have a slightly more balanced Supreme Court, which interpreted the constitution as Barack Obama, a former Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, does. *Note: someone replied that he was "just" a student at Harvard, but I have official information about him holding the position of a Preofessor thereand we can agree that he was a professor who is well versed about the constitution, no? The courageous decision of Justice Roberts ended the blatant attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act, and his conscience ruled, to break a partisan tie. What were those Justices who voted against Affordable Healthcare thinking????

Edited by lamazeteacher
better phrasing and spacing, additional comment


Specializes in OB, HH, ADMIN, IC, ED, QI.

I did consult lawyers, especially when there was a class action lawsuit against Anthem/Wellpoint/Blue Cross/ Blue Shield for age related discrimination. The lawyers for that case told me I hadn't worked yhere long enough there, to be included in it!! Then that person revealed that the firm was in the process of filing for $80,000,000 worth (???) of legal fees. Each participant in their action would get about $2,000 total!

Edited by lamazeteacher
need for clarity

HM-8404, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma. Has 8 years experience.

Obama being a former Professor of Constitutional Law is actually a play on words, not to mention it was in Chicago. He was just a student at Harvard. He was actually listed as a "Senior Lecturer" from 1996-2004, as brought to light by Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary. I wonder if he got the idea of portraying himself as a Law Professor while he was visiting all 57 states?

I like how the first reason you give for someone not believing in Obama is they are bigoted. Is it really that inconceivable that someone does not agree with his policy or his direction of the country and that be the reason they don't like him as President? I guess it is easier to parrot MSNBC and CNN tailing points that is can only be because they are racists.

Personally I don't like him because he has proven his ideas don't work. He says if he gets a stimulus package passed unemployment will not exceed 8%. He gets over $800 Billion stimulus package passed and $400 Billion of it goes to his presidential supporters. I am also sick and tired of hearing him talk about how it is all Bush's fault. At some point he has to accept he has not done what he was elected to do and that is his fault.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

there are plenty of debates that are ongoing aobut the aca/obamacare/romney. this thread is about the treatment of expereinced nurses who are being discriminated against because of their age. hospitals are very good at avoiding litigation with their non progressive discipline plans and vague and ambiguous "up to and including termination" terminology for infractions as small as coming back late from lunch.

many nurses i know have been "laid off", and "let go" and have been unable to find gainful employment since 2008. "not what they are looking for, have chosen another candidate with more experience (acute care rn from the ltc), you clinical experience is "dated". they can only find perdiem, casual employment while the have no insurance, unemployment has run out and they aren't old enough for medicare or ss.

this thread is about the discrimination in nursing not the aca.......lets stay focused on the topic of this thread.:D


Specializes in OB, HH, ADMIN, IC, ED, QI.


you asserted in your post #42, that "his (referring to President Obama) ideas don't work", without giving any example(s) of that. Your point regarding half of the stimulus money going to his supporters, and the rest of the garbage you wrote has no substantiation. I don't believe any of it!

President Obama HAS ACHIEVED:

The passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act which will result in insurance coverage of 32 million uninsured people in this country, beginning in 2014 and stops the placement of caps on necessary expenditures and the exclusion of those with "preexisting conditions",

the Stimulus Act which rescued the domestic auto industry, resulting in 100,000 new jobs created and the "Big 3" automakers have all gained market share for the first time in 3 decades and produced more jobs than were lost in the first 12 months. There has been continuing economic growth in all industries for 23 months. resulting in the creation of 3.7 million new private sector jobs, passed

The Wall Street Reform Act of Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Act which tightened capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions; and mandates that banks have a "living will" in place to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers' money for their own profit, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, and creates The Consumer Finncial Protection Bureau headed by Richard Cordray, decreased our military presence in Iraq and began the drawdown in Afghanistan.

I could go on to list at least 48 more of the accomplishments of this administration, but in order to keep with the subject of this thread, I'll stop here, with apologies to those who would like to see less politics here.If you're "sick and Tired" of the truth, I'll repeat the old adage that "There are none so blind, as those who will not see". President Obama has done much more than he was elected to do, and will do even more positive, tangible improvements for the 99% of the people in our country, when he is reelected.

Another tall tale sign of age discrimnation is hiring the older nurse and letting them go afew weeks later-"wasn't a good fit" well if it was n't a good fit,to be termnated that close to hiring, it would have been seen at the interview unless the interviewer is now saying their incompetent which could be. But in any case, this approach of hiring and there soon after, keeps the EEOC of their back.

Ageism is very covert.

Indy, LPN, LVN

Specializes in ICU, telemetry, LTAC. Has 5 years experience.

I have only met one nurse, out of all the nurses I've worked with in seven years, who was truly not competent in part due to her age. Only one. And it wasn't all her age, some of it was training. When you work 50 years in a doc's office because you're the doctor's wife, then try to do LTAC, well it's kind of a big change. I think the young'uns tried to help her adjust, and there were a lot of other factors involved in her performance.

Nursing as a whole revolves around learning new things and adapting. All of us can do it, to some extent. All of us can take a lesson or two and remember to think twice before participating in writeups and such that will possibly cost someone their livelihood and their dignity, whether they are old or young. I don't get into discussions of the afterlife much, but I do like to think there is a special place in hell for those who allow money to decide the well-being of other people.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

Another tall tale sign of age discrimination is hiring the older nurse and letting them go a few weeks later-"wasn't a good fit" well if it wasn't a good fit,to be terminated that close to hiring, it would have been seen at the interview unless the interviewer is now saying their incompetent which could be. But in any case, this approach of hiring and there soon after, keeps the EEOC of their back.

Ageism is very covert.

I know by your posts you have experienced what i and many other nurses with our experience level have suffered at the hands of hospitals and their administrations.



Specializes in Oncology. Has 7 years experience.

Thought provoking article and comments. I have been a nurse for 7 years but I am an older nurse having passed my boards at the age of 55 with and ADN. I am currently in school for my BSN and fairly proficient with technology. I love working with the new graduates who enter the field with enthusiasm and energy. What I am finding is that trying to find a less physically demanding job (9-5 clinic type instead of 12 hour floor shifts) is not happening. There is always a more qualified (younger) applicant. What has happened is that the younger nurse then leaves in less than a year to marry, have children, travel, etc. With the economy the way it is, I see my self working for at least another 5 years and if I can sustain the pace I will stay where I am! I do love sharing what I know on the medical oncology unit I am on and I also love the patients. JZ, I am with you on trying to save the essence of Nursing. We can work where we are and hold on to the light of the lamp;-)


Has 1 years experience.

Why can what is written in the article not be construed as ageism? A highly trained, experienced, older nurse was written up for petty things and micromanaged, while the younger nurses she works with were not subjected to this treatment. The nurse was then suspended and fired. Surely it's not unreasonable to think ageism is happening. The nurse certainly appears to have been discriminated against.

My personal thoughts are that probably the older, highly trained, experienced nurse's

medical insurance, worker's comp insurance, and other benefits were costing her employer more than they were willing to pay. Unless I am mistaken, her employer would have to pay more for these things for an older nurse versus a younger nurse.

It is very sad, in my opinion, that one's years of service, loyalty, clinical experience and expertise, often appear to mean next to nothing to an employer.

The author did well to point out that age discrimination is prohibited, and that there are avenues of recourse. I think that if I was in the above situation, once I recognized I was being subjected to a discriminatory pattern of behavior from my employer, I would probably want to consult with a lawyer who specialized in these kind of situations. And I would do it early on, after the first few occurrences. I would also keep notes for myself of when I was written up, the circumstances, and the date and time, and anything else I felt was pertinent. Mary took no action in her defence that we know of.

I was actually refering to someones comment about senority and saying that was ageism.

Sorry, I thought I had quoted the post I was responding to.

I agree with this article, but at the same time I wish ageism towards younger workers was more aknowledged.

Sadly its not, probably because new worker want to complain about senority and call it ageism.

I have been treated poorly at work for being young (no one had a problem with me when they thought I was in my twenties). My fiance has faced much worse, though. He is the youngest employee in his entire company at 19. He works hard and tries to learn as much as he can. One time he was working as a temporary crew leader, meaning he had to supervise men in their 30's. I could understand them being upset if they had put their time in as well, but these were new hires with no relevant experience in the industry, who proceded to swear at him and tell him that they didn't have to take orders from a kid.

I work in a small psych hospital on the east coast and have not seen the negativity toward older nurses in the workforce. In fact as long as you do your share of the workload there are no issues toward anyone. I see a different side of some, (not all) of the older nurses.

They are resistant to change, have a tendency to delegate more of their workload to ancillary staff and have a judgmental attitude toward the patients. I will give an example.One shift, an LPN was working with the two RNs on this articular unit... the LPN was the medication nurse. Instead of assessing a physically ill patient , the RN delegated the LPN to assess the patient and report her findings back to her.

The RN never looked at the patient. Yet she reported the findings in her am report as if she did. This is not an isolated incident. The RNs spend most of their evening sitting down delegating from the desk , both have seniority.

Edited by marymary

explorereb96, ADN, BSN

Specializes in Pediatrics Telemetry CCU ICU. Has 34 years experience.

I wonder why "Mary" did not go to the EEOC and the Human Relations Commission in her state and talk to an investigator. I did, way back in 1993. They talked to me right away. I experienced "ageism" when i was a younger nurse and just had my first child. It's a long story and not worth writing about but there was a change over of ownership of the nursing home I was working for. Right away, we all had the idea that what we were getting paid was not what this company wanted to pay nurses. Write-ups and being "let go" became the norm. The new nurse manager happened to come by one day and was speaking to a new nurse that they had hired (at a lower rate, I'm sure) and mentioned "a young nurse with children will have trouble working here." I noted the time, date and person who said it. When my time came to be "let go" (by that time 3/4 of the nursing staff had been replaced), I made my call to my state's Human Relations Commission. What infuriated me the most was that they were also refusing to pay me unemployment (they knew full well that what I was "let go" for had nothing to do with willful misconduct..so it also made me mad that they insulted my intelligence on that too). The investigator was VERY interested. She told me to hold tight and challenge the unemployment issue too. I also told her some other things that were happening there that was not legal..like making the staff come in 15 minutes early for report but not allowing them to punch in and get paid for it. Within a week, I received a phone call from the investigator, not only did her office go in unannounced, but she brought along the EEOC representative, a representative from the State Board of Nursing, a representative from the Wage and Hour Board...etc. There were about 6 entities in all. They pulled all kinds of records and also did an official Nursing Home Inspection. I have absolutely no clout with these people, I was just a squeaky wheel. I was absolutely p*ssed and someone was going to listen to me. I told her that it had nothing to do with money, it had everything to do with principle. What happened? They have a strike against them, they had to pay restitution to every employee past and present the 15 minutes of overtime they illegally imposed. They had to pay hefty fines and they gave me a $000,000 (undisclosed) settlement. It set precedence without a court hearing. I have no problem ever doing it again. The law is the law.

CeciBean, ASN, RN

Specializes in MICU/CCU, SD, home health, neo, travel. Has 30 years experience.

I was a second career nurse who went back to school when my youngest started preschool. I never encountered ageism until I moved to where I live now. My previous job was in a large city where I had worked an assignment as a traveler and liked the ambience. I got the position via a recruiting agency, was actually offered two different positions in that hospital (should have accepted the other one, but never mind) and was hired immediately. I would have stayed there but for being offered a wonderful position (having nothing to do with nursing) by The Man :) . When I got up here I applied for numerous jobs but it seemed that they would all prefer younger, newer nurses that they could pay less (pay was real sticking point, apparently). I went to one interview where the DON who interviewed me was younger than my youngest child and seemed perplexed at what to ask me! I was considering whether to start traveling again when my appendix exploded and I had an emergency appy. Three months later I developed a condition requiring three major surgeries and one slightly less major one over the course of 9 months, which I came to believe was a signal that I should consider myself retired. I still maintain my license and do some volunteer work, but that's it. I am mildly bitter about the ageism I was shown, but I've concluded that everything happened for a reason. I am now in my third career as a jewelry designer.

suseliz, MSN, RN

Specializes in Family Practice, Med-Surg. Has 40 years experience.

Ageism? I think it depends on your point of view. I left hospital nursing in 1994 when I decided I could no longer provide safe nursing care with the current staffing levels at my hospital. I became a Family Nurse Practitioner, so I could see my patients one at a time. I was in a practice I loved, but left in 2014 after 17.5 years because corporate medicine got to be too much for me. I thought I was continually exhausted due to my age, but several doctors followed me out the door. I now work per diem doing online convenience care. I work from home and work when I want to. I was recently offered a part time job out of the blue, which I accepted, will work one day a week in a psychology practice prescribing antidepressants and anxiolytics. This is something I became very good at in primary care. I am a recent widow and need to cobble together an income for 3 more years until I can collect social security at age 66. My point is that I think ageism exists, but... I don't think anyone in any profession should expect to do the same thing for the same employer for years and years. I think it's important to prepare for changes in your career. When I graduated with my BSN 40 years ago, I never in my wildest dreams imagined what I am doing now as an NP.