1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, Editor-in-Chief

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Retirement may be a dream come true for a nurse, but it's a nightmare for healthcare organizations. During the next decade, tens of thousands of nurses will reach their golden years and leave the workforce, creating the most crippling nursing shortage ever. This mass exodus from our profession will simultaneously occur as the aging baby-boom generation begins to require a significant increase in healthcare services. The impending need for more nurses places a greater strain on an already labor-starved profession.

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In addition, there's an unprecedented demand from nurses to improve retirement benefits. Nurses often compare themselves to other service professionals, such as police officers, teachers, and military personnel, all of whom historically enjoyed outstanding retirement benefits. Why don't healthcare organizations provide the same caliber of benefits?


Along with the struggles of seasoned nurses, healthcare administrators wrestle with significant reductions in reimbursement that result in lower profit margins, disgruntled physicians, higher customer expectations, an aging nursing workforce, and health professional vacancy rates that are predicted to rapidly escalate. Nurses and administrators must meet on common ground in a way that'll fulfill retirement needs while maintaining fiscal stability for the organization.


Retirement often comes with the price of losing healthcare benefits, which frightens retirees as healthcare expenses loom. Administrators struggle with offering retirees long-term benefit options and minimizing the cost associated with supporting them.


We need to develop creative retention strategies for aging nurses to minimize the effect of the labor shortage, while providing opportunities for older nurses to maintain healthcare benefits. Many older nurses want to work, but find nursing too physically demanding. By implementing care delivery models that allow RNs the opportunity to coordinate care, we can maximize the use of ancillary personnel to ensure that RNs' skills are appropriately utilized. Implementing supports-such as lift-team usage, improving ergonomics in the work setting, and maximizing technology use-help alleviate physical strains associated with bedside nursing.


Career planning will become increasingly more important as nurses continue working through their older years. Helping them gain the necessary experience and credentials throughout their career will enhance available opportunities. Increased reimbursement to hospitals is essential so that further funding will be available to subsidize the cost of continued healthcare coverage for mature nurses. Implementing a payment tier system could help balance the cost of coverage for nurses who work less as they age.


We need to be strong advocates for our staff to provide opportunities for older nurses. Collaborate now with your nurses to determine the environment they want to thrive in as they age.