Staffing company AMN Healthcare has revealed the results from its annual survey of registered nurses, showing marked generational differences in how nurses view their profession amid the recovering U.S. economy and impending implementation of healthcare reform.
Across several important factors affecting nurses today, including the supply of nurses and healthcare information technology developments, younger nurses have a more positive point of view than older nurses, the survey shows.
"In a time of unprecedented change in the healthcare industry, it becomes even more important to study how the nursing workforce is responding to the myriad new systems, requirements and quality measurements that accompany healthcare reform," says Marcia Faller, PhD, RN, and Chief Clinical Officer of AMN Healthcare.
"While the vast majority of nurses remain satisfied with career choice, the younger generation is more optimistic about the profession and more receptive to the changes the industry is experiencing. These are differences that health systems must understand as they work with multiple generations of nurses."
Younger nurses (ages 19-39) are more confident about the supply of nurses and their ability to meet the demands of healthcare reform, despite today's shortages.
Approximately 45% of younger nurses believe that the shortage has improved during the last five years, while older nurses were less optimistic.
The generational differences were even more apparent when asked whether healthcare reform will ensure an adequate supply of quality nurses, with 38% of younger nurses citing confidence compared to 29% and 27% of older nurses ages 40-54 and 55+, respectively.
Questions regarding the use of electronic health records (EHRs), a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, also demonstrate generational differences as younger nurses attributed them to positively influencing job satisfaction, efficiency and patient care.
While nearly two-thirds of younger nurses noted EHRs' influence on job satisfaction, that number fell to 51% or lower when older nurses were asked. Further, 60% of younger nurses agreed that EMRs positively influence productivity and time management, compared to just 38% of older nurses.
Other key findings for the RN survey include:
Almost 90% of nurses, regardless of age, are satisfied with their career choice, while 73% are satisfied with their current job.
With the improving economy, approximately 23% of nurses age 55 and older plan to dramatically change their work life, citing retirement, taking a non-nursing job or working part-time as very near-term possibilities.
Less than half of RNs with an associate's degree or a diploma plan to pursue any additional education in nursing.
21% of younger nurses are currently certified in their specialty, but 59% expect to seek certification.
"The potential departure of a significant number of older nurses from the workforce can be concerning, given the unclear supply and demand for nurses in the coming years, but is to be expected as nurses approach retirement age," Faller adds. "Healthcare systems must use innovative approaches to attract and retain their workforce while keeping them effective and satisfied. Innovative workforce solutions could help maintain high standards of patient care and efficiency in the era of dramatic change in the healthcare industry."
AMN Healthcare's fourth annual Survey of Registered Nurses explores career paths, satisfaction levels and other professional aspects of nursing through the candid expression of feelings and plans of wide strata of registered nurses. It provides demographic information on the supply of nurses, career plans, quality of patient care and electronic medical records.
During April 2013, survey questionnaires were e-mailed to 101,431 RNs opted-in to AMN Healthcare's portal websites, NurseZone.com and RN.com, to which there were 3,413 responses for a response rate of 3.36%. Statistical analyses were run with a 95% confidence threshold.
The full report can be found on the Industry Research page of the AMN Healthcare website www.amnhealthcare.com. Click here to access the survey directly.