The Dimensions of Being a Seasoned Nurse in Active Practice

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lisa A. Friedrich, RN-BC, MSN
Graduate Project, Millikin University, Decatur, IL
Sherry B. Robinson, PhD, RNCS
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL
Lori Cates, RN-BC
Memorial Medical Center, Springfield, IL
Marilyn Prasun, PhD
School of Nursing, Millikin University, Decatur, IL

Learning Objective 1: Identify four themes that inspire nurses to work beyond the age of retirement

Learning Objective 2: Recognize interventions that promote retention of the seasoned nurse.

Background:  The United States nursing workforce is aging due to the “Baby-Boomer” generation reaching middle and older adult ages.  It is projected that by 2010, 40% of the employed nurses will be over the age of 50.1   The purpose of this study was to examine what rewards and inspires nurses over the retirement age of 62 to continue to work in the acute care environment. 

Methods:  This was a qualitative study that explored the meaning of being a seasoned nurse and what influences these nurses to continue to practice and delay retirement.  A phenomenology approach was used, interviews were conducted which encouraged participants to share their lived experiences.  A grounded theory method of analysis was used to analyze the transcripts.  Open coding of the transcripts was performed by labeling each sentence with a name that conceptualized the data.  The labels were then clustered into categories; the categories were clustered into themes.  Axial coding, which identified relationships between the themes, led to the creation of a concept map.  Results: Four themes emerged that inspire nurses to continue to work in acute care beyond the age of  retirement. The four identified themes are as follows: (a) Preexisting factors; (b) making unique contributions; (c) meeting important needs;  (d) Retaining factors.  Conclusion:  Rich data was obtained that provides insight into what inspires nurses to work beyond that age of retirement.  Specialized roles could be created that capitalize on their unique contributions and enable them to mentor new nurses in their areas of expertise.    Further research is warranted to identify nursing models that facilitate the retention of seasoned nurses.

1.   Auerbach, D. I., Buerhaus, P. I., & Staiger, D. O. (2007). Better late than never: Workforce supply implication of later entry into nursing. Health Affairs, 26(1), 178-185.