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Generation Z is in nursing school. Are you ready for them?

Editor’s note: Author, Jennifer Mensik, does not endorse, recommend or favor any program, product or service advertised or referenced on this website, or that appear on any linkages to or from this website.

Still trying to figure out millennials? Well, time is up because here comes the next generation. Meet Generation Z.

There is so much to talk about — how they differ from other generations, how this applies to hiring, education and the profession. Therefore, this will be the first blog in a series focusing on Generation Z.

But first, a disclaimer — I am a Gen Xer. And I disliked nothing more than being fit into a box, especially when 10 to 15 years back the baby boomers and silent generation members liked to call us all slackers. Slackers? No, not me! I was so enraged about this I wrote an editorial on the topic in 2007.

What many didn’t realize was Generation X was going through a specific life cycle (described below). We are a different group now, in a sense, as we have aged. So, while some in my generation may have been slackers, others have not.

But what I have found by really diving in, researching and applying this knowledge is that there are generic truths about each generation. Here we go!

What you need to know about Generation Z

Generation Z may also go by the names Homeland Generation, iGeneration, Gen Tech, as well as The Founders. Members of this generation were born between 1996 and 2015, and some are starting to enter nursing school.

This may surprise you, but this generation will resemble the silent generation very closely. The silent generation are those who were born between 1925 to 1945.

So now, we will be blessed with five generations in the workplace, not four!

First, let’s review a bit about generational theory. Of course, this is not without controversy, and not everyone fits into one neat box. William Strauss and Neil Howe created the Strauss-Howe generational theory that theorizes recurring generational cycles in American history.

Their research led to the 1991 book “Generations” and their 1997 book, “The Fourth Turning,” which reviewed generational biographies going back to the late 1500s. This work resulted in an expanded theory where there are four repeating archetypes (generations).

Each generation also has four cycles or turnings — High, Awakening, Unraveling and Crisis — that they go through individually. If you are interested in more, I highly suggest reading either book.

Based on generational theory, both the silent and Generation Z groups are the “Artist” archetype. Both entered childhood after an unraveling, during crisis. The silent generation was born during and after the Great Depression and World War II. Generation Z was born and experienced the Great Recession and life post 9/11.

Generation Z has grown up with unsettlement and insecurity, so they value security, comfort, familiar activities and environments. Members of this generation grew up watching their parents lose their houses in the housing bust, losing jobs and facing economic uncertainty.

Like the silent generation who experienced the Great Depression, I believe this generation will consider work a privilege and will believe you earn your own way through hard work and long hours and promotions are the result of tenure and productivity.

Generation Z is more conservative and cautious

Generation Z also is mostly children of Generation Xers, making up 25% of the U.S. population (larger than the baby boomers or millennials). This group also is the first group to have internet technology readily available at a young age.

An important aspect to remember about this group is that they can, and always have, found everything they needed online and often for free. Considering this generation will make up 40% of consumers by 2020, this could be a major impact on our economy.

Generation Z also is more risk adverse than prior generations. In a 2013 study, 66% of Generation Z teenagers had tried alcohol, down from 82% in 1991. The group also has had lower pregnancy rates, less substance abuse and higher on-time graduations.

Interestingly, 41% of Generation Z — compared to 18% of millennials, 21% of Generation X and 26% of baby boomers — attend church during young adulthood. Generation Zers also identifies themselves as more conservative than their millennial elders.

My attempt in starting to describe what is known now is not to offend anyone or come across negative to any one group. My attempt is to give us information to work from, so we can continue to understand the diversity of generations in our education and workplaces.

While we continue to debate the best ways to retrain and recruit millennials and Generation X and how to retain the wisdom of baby boomers, Generation Z has silently come up behind us.


Take these courses on ‘generation’

CE478: Bridging the Generation Gaps
(1 contact hr)
Today’s healthcare workforce is a lively mix of generations. Today’s workforce is retiring later, and we now have five distinct generations working together: Veterans (born 1922 to 1946); baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964); and Generations (Gen) X( born 1964 to 1980), Y (born 1980-2000), and Z (born 2000-2012). People born around the same time develop attitudes and personalities shaped by a common history of cultural events, images, and experiences. Generations experience the same national catastrophes and achievements, grow up with the same music and cultural memorabilia, and start school and work at about the same time. Generational commonalities cut across racial and ethnic lines. Spanning 15 to 20 years, each generation has its own way of viewing the world. Collective life experiences shape what generations value, what they expect in relationships, and how they process and communicate information. Understanding each generation’s views on life and work promotes collaboration in the workplace. When dealing with various patient populations, it can make the difference between miscommunication and success.

WEB354: The State of the Nursing Workforce: Millennials, Keeping It Real and Making an Impact
(1 contact hr)
What does the nursing workforce look like today? The demographics are changing as baby boomers begin to retire and the number of millennials have doubled in the workforce. In general, what do millennials value in the workplace? How can we attract and retain millennial nurses? With a drive to make a difference, be understood, and thrive, millennials in general have certain aspirations for professional development and influencing their environment. Join us for a fun discussion of “the millennial nurse.”

By | 2018-10-01T16:37:58+00:00 August 13th, 2018|Categories: Nursing careers and jobs, Nursing education|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, FAAN
Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is division director of care management at Oregon Health and Science University and instructor for Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation DNP program. She also is treasurer for the American Nurses Association. Formerly, Mensik was vice president of CE programming for Nurse.com published by OnCourse Learning. A second-edition book she authored, "The Nurse Manager's Guide to Innovative Staffing," won third place in the leadership category for the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards 2017. Author, Jennifer Mensik, does not endorse, recommend or favor any program, product or service advertised or referenced on this website, or that appear on any linkages to or from this website.

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