The Next Nurse: Generation Gaps in the WorkplaceOctober 7, 2009
By Peggy McDaniel, BSN, RN
I recently read an article (“Time for ‘Dr. Next’?”) that focused on the differences between Baby Boomer physicians and Generation X physicians. The two groups apparently have a lot of angst about each other. While recognizing the younger doctors as collaborative and tech savvy, many older doctors express frustration with what they perceive to be less dedication to medicine. The younger physicians seek a healthier work–life balance, but the Baby Boomers remember putting in extremely long hours as students and also when starting their practices. Bringing these two groups together, often in the same practices, has highlighted their differences.
As it turns out, the same issues come between generations of nurses. This article from NurseWeek has some excellent advice and, although it’s from 2001, remains timely. It discusses different generational views about job security, technology, self-assertion, and other issues. One passage in particular jumped out at me:
Unlike many workaholic baby boomers who define themselves by what they do and how much they work, younger generations tend to see work as only a part of their lives. Generation X and Y nurses say the flexible hours and schedules of hospital nursing attracted them to the profession in the first place. To cope with the intensity of their jobs, they say, they need time to relax and pursue other interests.
If you’re a nurse manager and a member of the Baby Boomer generation, how do you deal with these younger generations of employees? Do you feel successful as a manager or are you frustrated? How about you Generation X or Y nurses? Are you being supervised by someone of an older—or younger—generation? Or are you supervising someone of another generation, and does that ever pose a challenge? Let us know what works and what doesn’t with staff from all age ranges.