A survey of registered nurses from the staffing firm AMN Healthcare finds that approximately 23% of nurses age 55 and older plan to dramatically change their work life in the very near future, including 13% who say they will retire. Study author Marcia Faller, RN, PhD, chief clinical officer at AMN Healthcare, says this year's "planning-to-retire" percentage is much higher than in years before.
"The intent-to-retire rate jumped to 13%. It had been running at 6%," she told me. "It is striking."
Striking as it may be, the spike to 13% won't be particularly surprising to nurse leaders whom Faller believes are "in tune with their retiring nurses." The challenge then becomes getting creative about not losing those retiring nurses completely. After all, when someone like Duckett retires, the nursing profession will not only be down one employee, but his co-workers and patients will undoubtedly miss his decades of experience.
Faller says nurse leaders should ask, "Are there things we can do differently to keep those nurses in the workforce longer? They have a vast amount of knowledge and experience."
For instance, Faller suggests offering shorter shifts to nurses who are nearing retirement. Already, some older nurses seem to be adjusting their hours. According to the survey, among nurses age 19–39, 60% work 36–40 hours per week, compared to 53% for nurses age 40–54 and 47% for nurses 55 and older.