Age of Nurse = Level of Experience? Or Not?? The survey says...
One might assume that the age of a nurse reflects the number of years of nursing experience. However, looking back over the past 2 decades we have seen that this would be an incorrect assumption. The demographics of nursing is changing... But why?
It is interesting to see the demographics of nursing changing, including average age, gender, ethnicity etc., and there are several reasons for that. In looking at some of the results from the allnurses 2017 Interactive Salary Survey, we can see a change, but do the results leave us with more questions than answers???
The 2017 allnurses Salary Survey asked questions about nurse's age, years as a nurse, and years of experience. It is interesting to compare the current data provided by more than 18,000 respondents to data from the past. Looking back in time, we are able to see from a study conducted in 1980 that 25% of registered nurses were over 50 years old. By 2000 33% were over age 50, and in 2007 the numbers rose to 41% of RNs were over 50 years of age. In the allnurses 2017 interactive study, results show that 30% of nurse respondents are over 50 years old. Why the drop? Are aging Baby Boomers leaving the workforce? Are nurses retiring early? Are they leaving the nursing workforce for other careers? Leaving to care for aging parents?
Now, let's look at the opposite end of the spectrum. In 1980 25% of nurses were under age 25, but by 2007 that number drastically dropped to only 8% under 30 years old. Our 2017 survey shows that approximately 16% or our respondents were under the age of 30 with 4% under the age of 25. This presents an interesting question? In 2007 there are the least number of nurses under 30 and the greatest number over 50. The largest percentage, 54%, of respondents in the 2017 allnurses survey fall in the 30 - 50 age range. Does the shift have to do with age entering into nursing as a career? In other words, were there more nurses choosing nursing as a second career or career change? What factors may be playing into the drop in nurses entering nursing under the age of 30?
Part of the equation seems to be the age of nurses when they graduate nursing school as their INITIAL education. We have some statistics showing that in 1985 the average age of the registered nursing school graduate was 24 years old. By 2004 that number jumps to 31 years old.
Additionally, many students obtaining an RN license have initially earned a different academic degree before deciding to enter the nursing field. During the years from 2000 to 2008, the percentage of RN candidates having earned previous degrees rose from 13.3 percent to 21.7 percent. The increase in the number of second-career students entering the nursing profession would help account for the increase in age of nurses with fewer years' experience.
When we compare the years of experience as a nurse from our allnurses 2015 study to the 2017 study we see age does not seem to correlate directly to number of years of experience. In the 2015 results, 62% of nurses had less than 10 years of experience as compared to the 2017 results showing the number has dropped to 56% having less than 10 years experience. As one would expect the numbers have increased in years of experience between 11-20 years (a 3 point increase), 21-35 (2 point increase), and 35+(up 1 point) since the 2015 survey.
There are so many variables to factor into these statistics, and it will be interesting to see if the entire 2017 allnurses survey answers or leaves more questions. As we can see, the average age of registered nurses is increasing yet the number of years as a nurse or years of experience does not reflect the age increase. When a younger friend of mine graduated nursing school with her BSN in 1993 their graduating class had a greater number of second career, or mothers that raised children prior to attending nursing school, than those of us coming straight out of high school into college.
What have you newer grads been seeing? This year's survey did not ask how many of you entered nursing as a second career or how old you were when you graduated, but we would love to get your input on that, and any other variables you think contribute to the statistics.
The results of the 2017 allnurses Salary Survey will be posted soon.
2015 National Nursing Workforce Study NCSBN.org
2015 allnurses Salary Survey Results
NLN Biennial Survey of Schools of Nursing, 2014
Nursing: Tradition Gives Way to Non-Traditional
Non-Traditional Nursing Students Take Non-Traditional PathwaysLast edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
Jun 20, '17It takes years of fighting to accumulate enough units at a community college to eventually have priority registration and be able to complete all your prereqs, with long waitlists and fewer classes available every year. Then applying to nursing schools and waiting to get in and start your nursing program can take a year or more (some of the city/community college programs in Southern California had 2-3 year long wait lists for their nursing programs.). Then you must complete the 2-4 year nursing program and by the time you graduate, quite a bit of time has gone by.
I personally don't see how there can be hardly any nursing graduates under 24 in 2017. I was 24 when I started my nursing program, and I was the third youngest in a class of over 50 students.Jun 21, '17Most of the students in my competitive ADN program were pursuing second careers or majors. Many, including myself, had liberal arts Bachelors degrees. While there were a few who were nearly straight out of high school, most were over the age of 30.Jun 21, '17Quote from Lev <3Out of curiosity why do you say that?56% have less than 10 years of experience....scaryJun 21, '17I'm one of those people. I'm currently 25 but started nursing school right out of high school at 18 and graduated nursing school with my BSN at 22.Jun 21, '17Something about this article smacks of age-ism. Why do we consider the desirable new nurses as only age 25 and below? I am one of those "second career" nurses who came into nursing in my 30s, and where I might have lacked in hands-on nursing experience I more than made up in customer service skills, research skills, and perspective. I don't consider myself less for not having made nursing my only job. And the amazing thing is that when I look around at my work, after having nursed for 15 years, I am still pretty average aged. And since I still have about 20 years before I plan on retiring, I am studying for my FNP.
So my two cents - Instead of making stereotype assumptions about people based on their appearance (something we are trained not to do!) that we take some time to get to know the people we work with. You might be surprised at what they have to offer!Jun 21, '17Quote from Gizmopup1This article is meant to present the facts. The demographics of nursing have changed. No one said this is for better or worse. It's a fact.Something about this article smacks of age-ism. Why do we consider the desirable new nurses as only age 25 and below? I am one of those "second career" nurses who came into nursing in my 30s, and where I might have lacked in hands-on nursing experience I more than made up in customer service skills, research skills, and perspective. I don't consider myself less for not having made nursing my only job. And the amazing thing is that when I look around at my work, after having nursed for 15 years, I am still pretty average aged. And since I still have about 20 years before I plan on retiring, I am studying for my FNP.
So my two cents - Instead of making stereotype assumptions about people based on their appearance (something we are trained not to do!) that we take some time to get to know the people we work with. You might be surprised at what they have to offer!
I am a baby boomer myself and proud of it. However when I was in nursing school, a very large percent of my graduating classmates were all in our early twenties having entered nursing school right out of high school. Now, things are much different as nursing is a second career for many which means they are older when entering nursing school and graduating. Nothing wrong with that at all. It is a fact. It is also a fact that since increasing graduates are older, then their age will not correlate to their experience like it does for nurses with decades of experience.
No one is saying there is anything wrong with any of this nor are we judging anyone by their appearance. Just trying to shed some light on the changing stats.Jun 21, '17Our society is changing its expectations of what a job should offer them. The buzz word fulfillment is thrown around a lot. To top it off, for profit schools run all these ads on TV making nursing seem like it's the answer to your prayers. So, people in their 30s and 40s are leaving their jobs in droves to come to nursing for enlightenment and fulfillment in life.
The problem comes when they are leaving as fast as they are coming in due to not understanding the field. Therefore, staffing is not being fixed and facilities are spending thousands upon thousands of dollars training new nurses to only have them leave. We are not ending up with experienced nurses even with the age older.
It's a vicious cycle. I'm most certainly for new grads because we all started there. The problem is we can't keep people in the field to turn them into experienced nurses.
I could get on my soapbox and explain what I personally feel needs to change but that's an entire book on its own. Part of it is giving realistic expectations when people want to enter the field, part is we need to stop schools from advertising incorrectly, employers need to better support women in the workplace ( I say women because this still is a female dominated field and the work/life balance needs to be there, especially with maternity leave, maybe offer affordable childcare), and we need to change how society views their job. Too many people view their job as their identity. When they don't feel fulfilled in life as a whole, where is that first change made? The easiest change, their career.
Just a few thoughts from someone who is slowly becoming an experienced nurse.Jun 21, '17People ASSUME things all the time about everyone, but hey, in my nursing class (I just graduated 5 years ago), there were people from 'regular college age' on up to 4 of us over 50, and several in between. So I'm 59 and only have 4+ years of experience. True, I've had patients & family members think I'm a doctor at times :^) ... but these days, age doesn't *necessarily* tell you anything about how much experience someone has. In anything, not just nursing.Jun 21, '17Quote from feelixOr move to corrections. So many of the nurses in corrections are older. I'm a young 'un at my site and I'm 41.Try getting hired in a floor job after 50. One reason nurses disappear.
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