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Analysis

What Are Millennial Nurses Thinking? Here Are a Few Insights

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   August 16, 2018

Wondering what this new generation is thinking in terms of career pathways and work settings? A new survey sheds some light on the subject.

During the past few years, there has been much lamenting about "those millennials," and how they just don't have the same work tendencies as the generations of nurses before them. Often, these assumptions are anecdotal and based off nurse leaders' personal experiences with the age-based cohort.

The new report, Survey of Millennial Nurses: A Dynamic Influence on the Profession, released by the healthcare staffing company AMN Healthcare, seems to confirm some of these observations. The report compares millennial nurses' (ages 19-36) responses on the AMN Healthcare 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses to responses from Generation X nurses (ages 37-53) and baby boomer nurses (ages 54-71). The questionnaires were sent out in March and April 2017, and 3,347 RNs completed the survey.

So just how do millennial nurses compare to nurses in other generations? Read on to find out.

On the Move

It's frequently mentioned that millennial nurses don't stay in their positions like baby boomer nurses do.

The survey findings seem to support that concept.

When asked about how the improving economy might influence their career plans:

  • About 17% of millennial RNs said they would seek a new place of employment as a nurse.
     
  • 15% of Generation X RNs said they would seek a new place of employment as a nurse.
     
  • 10% of baby boomer RNs said they would seek a new place of employment as a nurse.
     

Similarly, data from the RN Work Project, the national study that looked at career changes and work attitudes of new nurses, found:

  • 17.9% of newly licensed RNs left within one year of starting their first jobs
     
  • 60% left within eight years of starting their first jobs.

Regarding travel nursing, the AMN survey found millennial RNs are more open to traveling than their counterparts in other generations.

  • 10% of millennial RNs said they would work as a travel nurse.
     
  • 6% of Generation X RNs said they would work as a travel nurse.
     
  • About 5% of Baby Boomer RNs said they would as a travel nurse.

Advanced Practice Goals

According the AMN survey, millennial RNs are eager to join the ranks of APRNs.

  • 49% of millennial RNs said they want to become APRNs.
     
  • 35% Generation X RNs said they want to become APRNs.
     
  • 12% of baby boomer RNs said they want to become APRNs.

Over the past decade, both the number of and need for nurse practitioners have grown.

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners' NP Fact Sheet, reports there are more than 248,000 licensed NPs in the United States, and the Health Resources & Services Administration projects the supply of primary care NPs to increase to 110,540 FTEs, up from 57,330 in 2013.

Of the millennial RNs responding to the survey:

  • 28% of millennial RNs said they would pursue an NP degree in the next three years.
     
  • Another 14% said they would pursue education to become clinical nurse specialists.
     
  • 7% said they would become certified registered nurse anesthetists.

Future Leaders

Millennial RNs show a desire to pursue nursing leadership roles.

  • 36% of millennial RNs said they would seek a leadership role.
     
  • 27% of Generation X RNs said they would seek a leadership role.
     
  • 10% of baby boomer RNs said they would seek a leadership role.

To learn more about how one organization made changes to its nursing management structure to increased professional development opportunities and greater interest in nursing management positions, read Revamp Your Nurse Managers' Job Scope.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.


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