Helping Older Nurses Stay in the Workforce

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , February 23, 2010

Employers can help by:

  • Offering paid and unpaid time off to care for family members
  • Providing support programs that help nurses find daycare for aging parents or other family members
  • Providing education on elder issues, such as workshops and seminars
  • Offering subsidized backup eldercare programs, similar to childcare programs, for when arrangements fall through

Leadership can also plan for nurses' eventual retirement and make the transition easier by offering phased retirement. This growing trend allows nurses to work reduced hours for a period of time—such as three years—before full retirement. With this option, retirement becomes a gradual process rather than an abrupt event. Both employees and employers benefit from programs such as:

  • Offering "bridge to retirement" schedules
  • Reducing or eliminating physically-demanding patient care activities and utilizing nurses' experience to teach new grads, mentor other nurses, lead research activities, conduct nursing peer review, or serve on shared governance committees
  • Allowing employees to retire but with an ability to return occasionally to work on special assignments or projects
  • Letting employees try retirement and return to full-time employment if they decide they don't like retirement

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Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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