Website spotlight: Four tips for retaining nurses who work past retirement

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, October 28, 2011

Nurses are feeling the pinch from the economy as much as anyone else and a new study reveals many plan to continue working well into traditional retirement age. That's bad news for nurses and their plans to say sayonara to difficult patients and endless documentation, but it's good news for hospitals.

Almost 45% of RNs are older than 50, meaning they are due to hit retirement right as their fellow Baby Boomers start deluging the healthcare system. Projections estimate the country will be short 260,000 RNs by 2025 and that we'll start feeling the effects as early as 2018. Decreased readmissions and the poor economy have eased nursing shortages around the country and fooled many into thinking the shortage has gone away, but it hasn't.

Retention efforts may be at the bottom of a very long priority list, considering most organizations are currently engaged in cost-cutting efforts, and 2018 seems like the distant future, but it will be here before we know it. Savvy hospitals can prepare for the future and decrease costs now by planning for the retention and effective utilization of the older RN workforce.

The study that was released last month by Fidelity Investments revealed 71% of nurses have not saved enough money for retirement and that almost half of all nurses have changed their retirement plans because of the economy.

More than one in four nurses believe they will never fully retire. Twenty-six percent expect to retire later than originally planned and 22% will now work in retirement who had no previous plans to do so.

Of the nurses who plan to work in retirement, 79% said they will need to work to meet basic living expenses and 28% expect to struggle to make ends meet in retirement. These numbers show a significant change from the last time the survey was conducted in 2007 when nurses were more confident about their financial health in retirement.

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