1. Section Editor(s): Davis, Charlotte BSN, RN, CCRN

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For the first time in history, four generations of nurses are working together: traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X, and millennials. Having this generational diversity in a clinical work group is a gift because each generation brings unique talents to the table. Utilizing each team member's strengths can assist in providing more culturally sensitive care to our multigenerational patient population. To do so, we must understand generational differences to establish and maintain cohesive workplace relationships.

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Traditionalist nurses tend to be loyal to their organization. It isn't uncommon for these nurses to have only worked for one or two healthcare organizations in their career. They see loyalty to the organization's mission as a priority for their professional practice. They prefer face-to-face meetings and are less likely than any other generation to utilize e-mail or texting. To ensure that traditionalist nurses are included in communication, information should be relayed in person. If all communication is conducted electronically, the traditionalist nurse may feel excluded and undervalued within the team.


Baby boomer nurses are known for their strong work ethic, optimistic attitude, and workplace loyalty. They prefer face-to-face meetings or phone conversations with open, informal communication. When they text, they may use full sentences instead of the abbreviations that are more favored by their millennial peers. The last baby boomers set to turn age 65 will do so in 2029. As they begin to retire, these nurses can foster succession planning by actively engaging generation X and millennial nurses who'll benefit from their wealth of experience.


Generation X nurses are typically independent, flexible, and informal. They prefer to use e-mail and texting versus extensive formal face-to-face communication. To enhance team cohesiveness, generation X nurses should allot time for face-to-face communication with baby boomer colleagues to learn from their insight.


Millennial nurses are confident and technologically savvy, anticipating rapid responses to electronic communication. They typically prefer e-mailing and texting, frequently using abbreviations and acronyms that can be frustrating for older nurses who may not be familiar with this style. To facilitate an effective communication pathway with the other generations, millennials can avoid using abbreviations or acronyms that aren't approved and widely accepted by their healthcare facility. They may also need for other generations to provide an anticipated response time to any questions or communication so that they can plan accordingly.


As professional nurses, we see a common theme, regardless of our age or generational group, and strive to be respected and valued for the skills that we contribute to our team. Let's view the generational cohorts as mentors and start learning from each other today.