Ask the expert: Retaining older, more experienced nurses

Nurse Leader Insider, August 15, 2011

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This week, Judith "Ski" Lower, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNRN, discusses strategies for helping experienced nurses remain in the workforce.

Q: How can I retain my older, more experienced nurses?

A: Retention efforts must focus on the needs of each generation. To maintain the competitive edge, and to avoid being blindsided by waves of retirement as the Silents and Baby Boomers age, institutions must develop retention programs now that meet the needs of workers over age 60. More effort should be made in meeting their needs so as to allow them to work as long as they would like.

Helping nurses remain in the workforce for as long as possible will involve meeting many of their physical needs, while also concentrating on other issues that are important to them, such as preparing for retirement.

Environmental concerns: Silent and Baby Boomer generations want to be useful and productive, but need fewer physical demands and less stress. Offering flexible schedules may be the most crucial retention tool. Consider their needs when new units are designed and organized. Consider factors as diverse as the:

  • Distance required to walk between assigned patients
  • Distance to commonly needed supplies
  • Chairs placed on units-how easy it is to sit in them and get up from them
  • Font size and style on computer screens and in written material

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Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Senior Managing Editor Rebecca Hendren at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts. 

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