A generational gap is showing in nurses views of the practice, with younger RNs more likely to have a positive opinion of the nurse supply and use of electronic medical records, according to a survey.
The fourth annual survey was conducted by AMN Healthcare, a healthcare workforce and staffing company. Results were based on 3,413 responses from questionnaires emailed to 101,431 RNs during April 2013.
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, Marcia Faller, RN, PhD, chief clinical officer of AMN Healthcare, said in a news release.
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.
Despite existing shortages, RNs ages 19-39 are more confident about the supply of nurses and their ability to meet the demands of healthcare reform, according to the survey. Findings show 45% of younger RNs believe the shortage has improved during the past five years, compared with 41% of RNs ages 40-54 and 34% of RNs ages 55 and older.
The generational differences widened when nurses were asked whether healthcare reform will ensure an adequate supply of quality nurses, with 38% of younger nurses saying they were very confident or somewhat confident, compared with 29% and 27% of nurses 40-54 and 55 and older, respectively.
Generational differences also appeared in answers about the use of electronic medical records, a requirement of the Affordable Care Act. Younger RNs were more likely to believe their use positively influenced job satisfaction, efficiency and patient care. While 67% of younger nurses agreed or strongly agreed EMRs were a positive influence on job satisfaction, that number fell to 51% for nurses 40-54 and 45% for RNs 55 and older.
Similarly, more young RNs (60%) agreed EMRs positively influence productivity and time management compared with older RNs (38%), the survey found.
Other key findings
Almost 90% of nurses, regardless of age, are satisfied with their career choice, and 73% are satisfied with their current jobs.
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 associates degree or a diploma plan to pursue any additional education in nursing. However, RNs ages 19-39 are more likely to pursue higher education, with nearly 25% saying they expect to pursue a BSN and 34% planning to obtain an MSN, compared with 22% of RNs ages 40-54 planning to pursue a BSN and 22% eying an MSN.
Of younger nurses, 21% are certified in their specialty, but 59% expect to seek certification.
RNs ages 19-39 were less likely to believe the quality of care has generally declined (37%), compared with RNs 40-54 (56%) and RNs 55 and older (66%).
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 said in the news release.
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.
Report (registration required): www.amnhealthcare.com/industry-research/2147484433/1033/