The Real Reason Why Older Nurses Don’t Retire

Julianna Paradisi, who blogs at JParadisi RN and elsewhere, works as an infusion nurse in outpatient oncology. Her artwork has appeared several times in AJN, and her essay, “The Wisdom of Nursery Rhymes,” was published in the February 2011 issue. I hate to break this news to new graduate nurses struggling to find jobs, but the real reason that older nurses don’t retire isn’t—as you may have been led to believe—the struggling economy. The reason is that a large percentage of retirement-aged nurses enjoy working. As a middle-generation nurse, I’m coming to grips with this reality myself. Many of my longtime colleagues are old enough to retire. When they do, they often retain on-call status. They never really go away. It’s weird to attend a retirement party for a coworker and then see her or him again the next day at work, helping out with a special project for their manager. This trend among older nurses was also in evidence at a meeting I recently attended. Most of those present were nurse managers. Although a few were younger than me, most were older, sporting hipster eyeglass frames and sophisticated bob haircuts that left their natural silver. These men and women are a testament to the profession’s development of strong, consistent leadership. Seated around the table, they suggested to me an image of Oregon’s snow-topped Cascade mountain range. And like a majestic mountain range, they represent a barrier for younger nurses desiring to take their places around that table. Older nurses are … Continue reading The Real Reason Why Older Nurses Don’t Retire