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Retired, But Very Much On the Job

Retired, But Very Much On the Job

(NewsUSA): Retired registered nurses know nursing's rewards - working with patients, improving lives.
Older nurses - those approaching their 50s and older - report loyalty to their hospitals and high job satisfaction. When they retire, many former RNs miss their work.
Nursing needs advocates. In 1998, American hospitals reported a nursing shortage that could devastate patient care. Ten years later, the shortage continues - by 2020, more than 1 million registered nurses will be needed in our nation's health care system to meet the demand for nursing care.
Today, fewer graduates pursue nursing. Those who do often face the challenges of being either put on a waiting list or turned away, due partly to a growing shortage in nursing faculty. In addition, many new nurses choose to work in schools or as consultants, away from hospitals. Other RNs quit the profession after working one to two years, as a result of burnout.
With staff shortages, many hospitals cannot spend long periods training new RNs. New hires often become overwhelmed by hospitals' physical demands and irregular hours, and paperwork removes their focus from patient care. But many hospitals have found a way to encourage new hires. They retain their older employees.
"Nursing becomes part of your identity," said Andrea Higham, director of the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future. "Retired nurses and nurse educators still possess that key enthusiasm for the profession."
Many older RNs do not want to leave nursing, but cannot endure the job's pace. To continue nursing, experienced RNs require fewer and more flexible hours, less physically demanding work and pay incentives.
As hospitals create new jobs for older RNs, RNs might work part-time schedules after retirement, helping to ease younger nurses' caseloads instead of taking on their own patients.
"As a part-time faculty member in the clinical setting, I continue to educate and prepare future nurses with the experience needed for successful practice," said retired RN Sarah Andermuller of Columbus, Ga.
Some retired RNs become mentors. Studies show that hospitals can lose 40 to 50 percent of their new RNs each year. However, hospitals with nurse mentoring programs keep new hires longer.
"When retired RNs become mentors, they help new RNs develop that love for nursing," said Higham.
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