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Retaining Aging Experienced Nursing in the Workforce


Over the next decades, the aging population will significantly increase. Individuals ages sixty-five-years and older in the workforce are expected to increase by seventy-five percent compared to individuals between the ages twenty-five to fifty-four years old; this group is only expected to increase by two percent. Presently, the average age for employed nurses is fifty-years-old. According to Harrington and Heidkamp, by 2050 half of nurses in the United States will be eligible for retirement (1). These trends pose many challenges for the healthcare industry. Evidence links the retention of experienced aging nurses with patient safety, staff costs and nursing shortage. My goal of the paper is to discuss the implications and strategies of retaining aging, experienced nurses in the workforce.

Studies show that experienced aging nurses who are retained in the workforce improve patient safety. According to Karen Hill, Vice President/Nurse Executive at Central Baptist Hospital, there is a concern for senior nurses leaving the workforce. The decrease in staff nurses with know-how skills and knowledge is needed for today's complex, high-acuity patients in order to improve the health outcomes. Research indicates a correlation between the older nurses' years of experience and patient safety. According to Hill, she argues "Expert nurses leaving the work setting result in the loss of experienced-based knowledge, a situation that has ominous implications for patient care" (3). Based on research data of RN characteristics from the National Database of Nursing Quality, the in-patient fall rates dropped by 1% for every year of registered nurse experience ("Improving Quality of Patient Safety by Retaining Nursing Expertise" 4). The longer years of nursing experience significantly reduces the in-patient fall rates by one percent and hospital pressure ulcers by one point nine percent (Hill, 4). Seasoned nurses are able to rapidly assess, diagnosis, plan, implement and evaluation patients with acute and life-threatening conditions. These expertise assessment skills reduce the patient's risks for unsafe practices and ultimately improve patient safety.

In addition to retaining nurses to improve patient safety, research links a relationship between aging nurses' and staffing costs. Studies show that retaining experienced aging nurses reduce these costs. Candace Pruett, nursing project director, reported the results of a study on the impact of a new staffing model. This model is used to retain experienced nurses at the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. This study proved that one way to reduce costs is by changing the following two staffing models: requiring mandatory on-call and reducing patient workload ("Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses, 17). With the new model, the older nurses report that they are able to provide quality care with less physical demands. As a result, they are less likely to call in sick, quit or retire. All of these alternatives have an adverse impact on nurse recruitment. "Temporarily filling vacant positions and conducting new nurse training and orientation account for about two-thirds of replacement costs" ("Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses, 11"). Researchers concluded the correlation between the higher nurse-to-patient ratios to nursing replacements. According to a study, the average replacement cost of the nursing turnover is between $14,225 to $60,102 ("Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses," 11). The direct relationship between staffing cost and retaining older should be signal for policy makers and health-care organizations to modify the staffing policies to meet the needs of experienced nurses.

Along with retaining nurses to improve patient safety and reduce staffing costs, evidence associates a correlation between older nurses' experience and the nursing shortage. Studies show that aging nurses who are trained to transition to other roles and duties reduce the nursing shortage. The study on hospital admissions and placement at the Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Illinois proved that giving the nurses control over their roles and responsibilities reduced the nursing turnover. "The hospital hoped to manage patient flow, improve nurse jobs satisfaction, create new opportunities for experience nurses and reduce staff turnover" by implementing a new program ACT (Admission, Coordination and Transfer ("Wisdom at Work, 19"). Based on the results from this study, researchers proved that training older nurses to perform different job duties reduced the nursing shortage. In a study of experience nurses, researcher correlated the number of nurses resigning to an increase in patient care and job satisfaction. Nurses usually perform the same job functions within the unit throughout their careers. However, as they age, they may no longer perform these certain tasks, such as managing high patient workloads. The direct relationship between aging experience nurses with nursing shortage is evident. As nurses age, healthcare organizations could create new opportunities and flexible schedule for these nurses in order to retain their expertise and ultimately reduce the nursing shortage.

Despite this research of retaining experienced nurses to improve patient safety, reduce staff cost and nursing shortage, other evidence links aging nurses with health outcomes. Studies show that retaining aging nurses could increase the risk for adverse health outcomes. Researchers, LeeAnna Spiva, Hart and McVay reported the results of a study that addressed the physical and mental changes associated with the aging process. These changes have a negative impact on patient care (4). "As people age, they become more likely to acquire disabilities or other age-related health conditions that may reduce their functional capacities and affect their abilities to remain in the workforce" (Harrington and Heidkamp, 7). The nursing role at the bedside is physically demanding, challenging and stressful. As nurses age and continue to work at the bedside, many of them no longer have the energy nor the cognitive skills to perform routine clinical skills, such as turning patients. As a result of these age-related physical and mental changes, patients and the nurses are both at risk for falls or back injuries. According to a study, older workers have age-related health and functional changes that affects the nurses' ability to adequately handle work-related stress along with work shift changes, physical demands and cognitive skills ("International Council of Nurses", 277). Although experience aging nurses may remain in the workforce, evidence proves that there is a direct relationship between the age-related health changes may adversely affect the quality of health outcomes for the patient and the nurse.

In conclusion, retaining aging experienced nurses is a vital aspect of a quality healthcare system. The number of experienced nurses leaving the workforce is significant compared to the loss of years of expertise in nursing. In order to prevent the nursing shortage, the educational institutions, policy makers and the healthcare industry should strategies to retain older nurses. The implementation of these strategies will improve patient safety, reduce staff costs and nursing shortage.

Works Cited
Harrington, Laurie and Maria Heidkamp. The Aging Workforce: Challenges for the Healthcare Industry. Report. New Brunswick: The NTAR Leadership Center, 2013. Document.
Hill, Karen. Improving Quality and Patient Safety by Retaining Nursing Expertise. April 2009. Websie. 29 June 2016.
International Council of Nurses. "Nursing and Health Policy Perspectives." International Council of Nurses (2013): 277-278. Article.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses. Falls Church, 2010. Article.
Spivva, LeeAnna, Patricia Hart and Frank McVay. "Discovering Ways that Influence the Older Nurse to Continue Bedside Practice." Nursing Research and Practice (2011): 1-8. Article.

Jul 5, 2016   #2
Hi Cybrniche, first of all, WELCOME to the Essay Forum Family, I hope you find this website worthy of your trust in enhancing your writing projects and providing you with credible and useful feedback.

Now, as I was reading your research, I must say, you manage to create a paper that is not only true to its purpose but also very relevant to todays world. This writing technique is very crucial because most of the research papers we publish online will forever be included to future searches and there's nothing more than we want but to be able to help the future writers t come up with a well written paper. Having said that, what I also notice in your essay is the fact that, you have written the citation side by side the extracted information from the source, this is the modern approach to research paper writing, personally, I like this technique, this way, a reader can easily double check the credibility of the source of the information and this adds substance to your paper.

While it is true that the future workforce is aging faster than usual, this is not of a proble, provided that they are as effective as the younger generations, as they say, the more you age, the wiser you get.


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