Who will be there to nurse? Retention of nurses nearing retirement

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Nursing Administration, 2004, 34 (6), pp. 298 - 302
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Aims: To determine the impact on nursing workforce supply of delaying retirement. Background Data: The nursing workforce is aging, and the Baby Boomer generation is nearing retirement age. This potential loss of experienced nurses is likely to exacerbate current nursing shortages. Methods: An analysis of loss rates of nurses in New South Wales (Australia) is provided using 2 different retirement ages-58 and 65 years. Supply numbers were used and then "aged" to determine the impact of retirement on workforce numbers. The impact of potential retention strategies on the numbers who could be retained were determined if 100% of 50- to 55-year-old nurses was retained, 75% of those 56 to 60 years, and 50% of those 61 to 65 years. Results: By the year 2004, approximately 4139 nurses (registered and enrolled) will be lost through retirement at age 65 years. However, retirement at age 58 years sees 7328 lost by 2004. Potentially 2139 nurses in this age spectrum could be retained if strategies are focused on delaying retirement. Conclusions: Delaying the retirement of nurses could provide a significant human resource, not only in terms of absolute numbers but more importantly, in terms of experience and expertise. However, retention of this portion of the workforce may require different strategies than for younger members of the workforce. The needs of this segment of the nursing workforce may require nurse administrators to consider different approaches to nursing work and work allocation.
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