Though not at all unexpected, the baby boomer retirement wave is impacting all facets of the working world in varying degrees. And as baby boomer nurses gather up their stethoscopes and turn in their badges they are leaving an incredible void to be filled in a healthcare industry already clamoring for quality nurses. The need for nurses in the healthcare workforce was already approaching crisis, but with the baby boomer nurses starting their retirement there is now a dire need for nursing staff in every major city in the U. S.
The Retirement Wave of Baby Boomer Nurses
The number of registered nurses who plan to retire in the coming year is significant. In 2008 the baby boomer nurses working as RNs was at it’s peak. At that time there were 1.26 million nurses of that generation employed in the healthcare workforce. As of 2020 that number is predicted to fall by 50% or more. That’s sure to leave a huge number of nursing positions to fill.
Every year since 2012 baby boomer nurses have been steadily leaving the healthcare workforce by about 60,000 nurses per year. Recent projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports this claim, confirming it with their projection that, between the years of 2016 and 2026 the job openings for nurses will increase by 15%, much higher than the projections for all other occupations.Adding to The Equation
Baby boomer nurses aren’t the only ones of their generation who have a hand in creating a need for new nurses. As the largest generation to date in this country begins to age they’re placing an urgent demand on healthcare to step up. The wave of retiring baby boomer nurses combined with the demands of a large aging general population combine to create a “perfect storm”.
Immediate Solutions are Needed
So, what does the change in baby boomer nurses job status mean for a healthcare workforce already seeking to recruit professional nursing staff members? Research projects an astonishing number of job openings created by this equation. For those in charge of filling this enormous need for nursing staff the prediction is a huge wake-up call. Qualified nurses necessary to fill every post left by retiring baby boomer nurses and staff needed to deal with an aging general population isn’t currently there. There needs to be some well-thought out, concrete solutions, adopted universally, to help deal with the impending crisis.
The institutions that educates nurses and those healthcare facilities employing nursing staff must come together to fill the void left by retiring baby boomer nurses as well as the demand for nurses to provide patient care for an aging population. There are some valid ideas to deal with the nursing shortage and many of these changes are a part of healthcare today.
Strategies for Coping With Nursing Shortage
There are a few ways hospital corporations and medical facilities can come together to help remedy the current nursing shortage. The first idea is to find ways to retain those valuable nurses currently on staff. Here are a few ideas:
- Clearly define the role of your nursing staff and those duties with which they’re tasked.
- Provide adequate staffing.
- Offer competitive compensation.
- Allow nurses to be part of a collaborative effort to provide patient care.
- Partner with a staffing agency to protect against short-staffing.
Utilizing a Staffing Agency
Staffing agencies offer an ideal solution to the immediate need for nurses. When you partner with a staffing agency you will be able to provide qualified nursing staff to fill any vacancy left by retiring baby boomer nurses, and a need brought on by higher patient numbers. Your agency staff has been vetted, all of their credentials have been checked and are up to date, and best of all, they can hit the ground running.
Some of the hardest hit hospitals are those in rural and underserved areas. By utilizing the services of a staffing agency you avail your medical facility of traveling nurses eager to provide patient care to these underserved communities. Staffing agencies and traveling nurses are not simply a temporary solution to the crisis in nursing; They are the changing face of healthcare.
The Focus Remains True
As the face of nursing changes along with healthcare in general, the focus must never change. Quality patient care needs to be at the forefront of nursing now more than ever before. By supporting new nurses, creating mentoring programs, and allowing nursing staff a say in patient care, the future may not be as dire as statistics state.
For those looking for a career in nursing there has never been a more opportune time. As baby boomer nurses retire this changing of the guard allows for new and innovative ways of providing patient care and carrying out the duties assigned to nursing staff. Nursing is evolving along with healthcare and the future puts nurses in the drivers seat.