Learn What Millennial Nurses Want From Their Jobs

With a recent study confirming millennials are becoming nurses at twice the rate of baby boomers, it behooves nurse recruiters, human resource professionals and hospital administrators to understand what makes millennials tick.

They may want to learn what attracts the millennial generation to the nursing profession and what aspects of the job add to the likelihood of retaining them as employees.

A recent Nurse.com salary survey highlighted some of the values and expectations that millennial respondents hope to achieve with regards to their nursing jobs and employers.

Tuition remission is an effective millennial hiring incentive

A whopping 79% of millennials surveyed by Nurse.com are considering higher education, certification or additional training to increase their salaries. Armed with this fact, should employers consider offering tuition remission for their nurses?

The answer is a resounding yes, said Nicole Smith, PhD, research professor and chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington, D.C.

“We still find significant pockets in urban and rural settings where there is a shortage of nurses,” she said. “Offering tuition remission is a type of carrot. If employers then require nurses to stay in their jobs for a time to help pay off their tuition remission, it can help with retention and ease workforce shortages.”

Smith said the use of tuition remission by healthcare organizations tends to occur cyclically.

“When there are shortages and it’s an employees’ market, employers have to compete for nurses and put tuition remission on the table as one of the many items they may offer in a basket of goodies and benefits to help lure staff to come work for them,” she said. “If it’s an employers’ market, this is one benefit you may see employers pull. We’re expecting some organizations may begin offering tuition remission again in the next year or so, to help sweeten the pot for nurses as the market tightens and the U.S. population continues to age.”

Higher levels of education for an organization’s nurses is something that has benefits for both the nurses’ employers and their patients.

“There is a growing body of evidence that indicates when nurses have more education, there are improved patient outcomes, an increase in work productivity and an economic return on investment for the employer,” said Joanne Spetz, PhD, professor at the Institute for Health Policy Studies, Department of Family and Community Medicine, and School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco.

She also is associate director for research at the Healthforce Center at UCSF and director of the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care.

Trends show rise in BSNs and advanced practice for millennials

Millennial nurses have 16% more BSNs than Generation X and the highest number of BSNs at 63% of the total number of nurses surveyed by Nurse.com.

These findings are to be expected said, David I. Auerbach, PhD, external adjunct faculty member for the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont.

“I’d expect to see more BSNs in millennials as over the last several years [since] more and more hospitals are requiring a BSN even for entry level positions,” Auerbach said. “Many millennials are aware of this trend  in hiring and are getting their BSNs right away, rather than getting an associate degree first.”

Even for bachelor’s prepared RNs, offering tuition remission can be a good enticement. And as RNs move into advanced practice roles this becomes even more important.

“The number of nurse practitioners has been growing very quickly the last few years, and faster than the number of RNs,” Auerbach said. “We’re seeing the rates for NP growth at 5% to 6% per year, compared to RN growth at 2% to 3% per year. From an employer’s point of view, it would help attract and retain nurses to offer not only a pathway for a BSN, but also for advanced practice education, especially in a competitive hiring environment.”

millennial nurses

How job satisfaction relates to nurse retention

Only 15% of the millennial nurse respondents in the Nurse.com salary survey said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs. And 13% of the millennials surveyed said they’re considering leaving the nursing profession altogether.

“These numbers aren’t too surprising,” said Artem Gulish, MSHSA, senior analyst at Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington, D.C. “Nursing is not an easy profession. It’s difficult physically and mentally with its long hours, long stretches of time spent standing and the idea that if you make a mistake, it could cost someone’s life. Some millennials may not have fully realized what they had to deal with when working in a hospital environment in terms of stress.”

On the flipside, 31% of the millennials surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs.

Gulish said nursing is attractive to many millennials because it is an established profession that offers growth potential.

  • Continued professional growth and development
  • Opportunities to learn and practice in different specialties and settings
  • Ability to pursue advanced education, such as master’s and doctoral degrees
  • Potential to earn advance practice licensure and status

But among the biggest takeaways from the survey is millennial nurses, like all generations, want to have a voice in the workplace.

“In general, nurses want to feel they are part of the decision-making process in their workplace, feel supported by those in positions at levels both above and below them and want to be treated with respect,” Auerbach said. “These factors can decrease turnover and increase job satisfaction.”

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