According to a study by the RAND Corp. published last month, an increased number of registered nurses are putting off retirement resulting in higher-than-expected numbers of RNs still at work.
As RNs age, many choose to leave a hospital setting in favor of a primary care office or clinic. This shift allows hospitals to recruit new nurses from graduating classes and residencies. Many older RNs take on simpler preventive care functions that are consistent with the aims of the Accountable Care Organizations encouraged in the ACA.
However, in every setting the rising average age of RNs is creating a need for health providers to accommodate their changing physical and technological needs. Also, as more nurses wait to retire there are still more nurses just graduating from school and competing for a lower-than-expected number of jobs. The news is not all bad: when members of the aging cohort of nurses do choose to retire, there will be a smaller employment gap for hospitals and healthcare staffing agencies to fill.
Reasons for RNs staying on the job include economic necessity, uncertainty about retirement benefits, and continued passion for the work they do.