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Retaining the Older Nurse

Letvak, Susan PhD, RN

Journal of Nursing Administration: July-August 2002 - Volume 32 - Issue 7/8 - p 387-392

The nursing workforce is aging more rapidly than the workforce as a whole, and fewer young people are entering the profession. It is imperative that older nurses be retained, not only for their experience and expertise, but also to prevent worsening an already critical nursing shortage. A descriptive survey design was used to determine the knowledge base and plans for the aging RN workforce by North Carolina hospitals and nursing homes. Nurses over age 55 made up 14.1% of the respondents’ RN staff. Most administrators are aware of the aging workforce and wish to retain older nurses. Unfortunately, 94% of facilities have no policies in place to address the needs of older nurses, and 87% admitted to having no immediate plans to do so. Specific recommendations are made to assist nurse managers in retaining the older RN.

Author affiliation: The University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Corresponding author: Susan Letvak, PhD, RN, The University of North Carolina Greensboro, Adult Health School of Nursing, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 (

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.