Millennials embrace nursing careers – in time to replace baby boomers


The days are long past when the only career doors that readily opened to young women were those marked teacher, secretary or nurse. Yet young adults who are part of the millennial generation are nearly twice as likely as baby boomers were to choose the nursing profession, according to a recent study.

These young people, born between 1982 and 2000, are also 60 percent more likely to become registered nurses than the Gen X’ers who were born between 1965 and 1981.

What gives?

“There’s no perfect answer,” said David Auerbach, an external adjunct faculty member at Montana State University’s College of Nursing and the lead author of the study, which was published this month in Health Affairs. The trend could be associated with economic factors, he said. Millennials came of age during a period of deep economic uncertainty with the Great Recession, which began in 2007, and the nursing profession generally offers stable earnings and low unemployment.

In addition, researchers have teased out generational characteristics that might make nursing more attractive to millennials.

“These people are looking for more meaningful work and work that they care about,” Auerbach said.

One thing that hasn’t changed since the 1950s: Nursing is still dominated by women. In 2017, women made up at least 83 percent of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

For the study, researchers analyzed Census Bureau data on 429,585 registered nurses from 1979 to 2015. The study excluded data on advanced practice nurses.

The study found that the number of new entrants into the field has plateaued in recent years. Still, the millennial generation’s embrace of the nursing profession should nearly compensate for the retirement of baby boomer nurses over the next dozen years and may help avert shortages, according to the researchers.

Many factors will influence whether the supply of nurses is adequate in coming years. The health care needs of an aging population is only one of them.

“The growth in accountable care organizations and alternative payment models is probably the biggest factor,” Auerbach said. For example, as hospitals move away from fee-for-service medicine toward models that pay based on quality and cost effectiveness, nurses’ roles may shift, and fewer of them may be needed in hospital settings as inpatient care declines.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

Choose to show compassion for whole community, not just those like us
Choose to show compassion for whole community, not just those like us

As the story goes, one evening an old Cherokee grandfather was telling his grandson about a battle between two wolves that goes on within each of us. One wolf is evil — it is anger, envy, fear, jealousy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, deceit, superiority and ego. The other wolf is good — it is joy, abundance, peace, love...
Austin mom creates solution to stinky boys with body care line
Austin mom creates solution to stinky boys with body care line

Austin mom Michelle Houp started a line of personal care products for boys after she found herself saying to her sons when they got in the car, “Do not take your shoes off anymore because I’m going to vomit.” Her sons, Carson and Colton, who are 6 and 8, are really active in sports. They are constantly changing their clothes in the...
Austin mom brings the Kindness Campaign to schools, Zach Theatre play
Austin mom brings the Kindness Campaign to schools, Zach Theatre play

On a darkened stage at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Andra Liemandt’s vision is coming to life with the help of three puppeteers and many others behind the scenes. On a playground, a little girl named Esme plays with a doll her grandmother gave her. A little boy named Hector isn’t feeling so great about his life...
Ideas of what to do with the kids this weekend
Ideas of what to do with the kids this weekend

Need some ideas for the weekend? We have ideas that can keep kids busy. Know that Saturday is going to be beautiful, making it hard to believe we had a snow day earlier in the week. Sunday will be a great day for the rain boots. Austin Family’s Summer Camp Fair. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. Hill Country...
Garden creates community, new skills for seniors at recreation center
Garden creates community, new skills for seniors at recreation center

A few gray clouds and the possibility of rain showers didn’t keep away the devoted gardeners at the South Austin Senior Activity Center. The group, which meets each Monday, spent a recent morning tending to the snap peas, cabbage and other vegetables growing in the 18 raised beds, some built of limestone and others made of white pine. They weeded...
More Stories