Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Travel Nurses and Generational Differences

The question I asked myself as I wrote this article for my neswletter The Travel Nurse Journal was "Are more Gen X and Y nurses traveling than the boomers?" The answer was "I don't know" I have met travel nurses who qualify as boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.

Generational Nursing
If you were born between 1943 and 1962 you are a card carrying member of the "boomer" generation. 77 million strong and shaping america in ways that the Silent Generation(1925-1942) never imagined. You share some things with the Silent Generation though. You probably have a strong sense of loyality to the hospital or company you work for. You feel its your duty to work overtime and stay over so that the patients get taken care of. Enter Gen X and . Born in the years following the boomers these younger nurses learned from thier parents and from watching first hand that loyality and hard work don't alwayspay. In the downsizing days of the 1980's the Gen X and Y nurses learned quickly that a strong skill set and a willingness to market themselves were key assets.

Another key factor about Gen X is that there are only about 33 million of them. Obviously, the number of eligible workers is a lot less. It could explain some of the nursing shortage. Some other key factors aboutnurses born after 1962 is that many of them grew up with computers and are very comfortable with technology, they may like excitement a little more than more seasoned nurses. Gen X and Y nurses are lesslikely to accept the old adage of "paying thier dues" when it comes to working night shifts or week-ends. They are more likely to demand fairness over seniority when it comes to deciding who works onholidays or who gets the "ugly schedule". A surprise positive trait is their willingness to change jobs if they can't negotiate the terms they like.

Sometimes more seasoned nurses resent these interlopers who refuse to be "team players" or who are "selfish" for not wanting to work overtime. But, when a real effort is made to communicate with eachother a surprising theme can emerge. All nurses want to take of patients. They just have different approaches to making that happen. Nurses from the X and Y generation may change jobs more often and vote with their feet when a work environment turns toxic. But, they also may suffer less from burn out and thus last longer in the profession. Nurses from the Boomer generation help everyone out by picking up the extra shifts and working overtime to cover the gaps.

Each generation can learn something from the other. Everyone brings something of value to the table. It may be time for nursing to really take a long look at how we appeal to younger people. Especiallysince there are statistics showing that the total number of nurses under the age of thirty is less than 10%.
Well, that's it for today. I hope today is a great nurse day for you.
Jesse aka

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