Successfully Blending the Multigenerational Nursing Workforce

March 01, 2016

Although the average age of US nurses was 50 (as of 2013), you’re typically sharing a unit floor with representatives from several different age brackets. Some researchers have divided the current nursing cohort into three age groups: the Boomers, the GenXers and the Millennials.

Generalizations about Generations

The Baby Boom occurred from 1946 to 1964. Many nurses in this age group have years of experience behind them, and some may have entered the profession later in life. These nurses make excellent mentors for newer nurses. Strong leadership and mentorship is needed as new nurses enter an amazingly fast-paced workplace in the midst of an evolving healthcare system.

From 1965 to ’79, Generation X was born. This age group is credited with bringing attention to work/life balance. Fulfilling individual interests and spending time with family is important to this group. These nurses may retire at an earlier age than Boomers.

Millennials — born from 1980 to 2002 — are optimistic and energetic, enjoy bonding with co-workers and working as a team, but not likely to stay in one job (or with one single employer) as long as prior generations (although this also has to do with the changing economy as much as personal traits). They are anxious to learn new things so they’ll be prepared for the next new workplace or environment. Although youthful, some of these nurses may have had significant job experience before becoming a nurse, such as serving in the military.

Nursing Teamwork

Nursing can provide a good balance for many types of individual work styles, because it has a fulfilling, meaningful component, requiring compassion and intelligence. Nursing also expands interpersonal skills, as nurses often work as a member of a team, as a nursing team leader and sometimes alone.

A successful team is created when members realize that diversity among individuals is a positive team attribute, especially when working towards a common goal.

Nursing goals are typically important and challenging at the same time; such examples include patient safety and welfare. Nurses' generational and age differences have the potential to expose variances in job expectations, desire to receive recognition and appreciation, work ethic, career goals, attitudes to authority and more. With that said, there are some cases where variations don't always correspond to one’s age or generation. When inevitable disagreements and conflicts arise, successful teams address the problem directly and resolve quickly. 

Truly effective nursing teams find ways to use each person’s strengths and support one another toward achieving goals.

There's no escaping the great responsibility involved in nursing, and stress is often a part of the puzzle. The best nurses will address and fix the crucial concerns, and laugh off minor difficulties that arise when working in a healthcare environment. Be thankful your team of nursing colleagues has a variety of personal values, skills and quirks.

Together, you can accomplish magical things.

What have your team experiences been like, as a travel nurse?

What are your strategies to hit the ground running and find your place in the local team on your hospital assignments?

Do you find it satisfying to swoop in, fill a great need or shortage, then move on to the next assignment? Let us know!