Op-Ed: Nursing is Changing, and Some Say for the Worst

Rick Martinez RN

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Nursing is changing, and some say for the worst, especially if you're a "younger" RN. Mainly because Millennials and Gen Z nurses are taking it hardest.

While I don't necessarily agree with that sentiment as a blanket statement, some stats may actually point to that being true, especially for millennial RNs or Gen Z nurses looking to start or continue travel nursing.

But first, who exactly are these nurses?

Who are the Gen Z and millennial nurses?

Gen Z is the demographic cohort following Millennials, typically defined as those born after 1997.

A millennial is a person who was born in the 1980s or 1990s.

Based on these birth year ranges, that would put the age range in and around mid-forties and below, with Gen Z having the youngest of these nurses.

How has the pandemic affected this demographic?

The COVID 19 pandemic has affected Gen Z and Millennial nurses in many ways.

One of the most significant ways is that it has increased their awareness of the importance of nursing. This one became blatantly evident in the heyday on COVID-19 as hospitals became overrun with sick patients. The local and national news shined a spotlight on filled to capacity hospitals and overworked nurses.

Nurses under 40 years old have been walloped by the pandemic, with many suffering from mental health issues. Couple that with over half of them considering leaving their positions, which further highlights the need for organizational change.

The stats don't lie, and we should no longer ignore them. According to a study by Mental health America, Nurses are stressed out and stretched too thin: 93% of health care workers were experiencing stress, 86% reported experiencing anxiety, 77% reported frustration, 76% reported exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed.

What is the future of nursing?

The future of nursing is uncertain, especially for Gen Z and Millennial nurses.

Many of these caregivers are already feeling burned out and disillusioned with the profession. Suppose the pandemic continues to have a lasting impact on the nursing profession. In that case, there will likely be a significant shortage of nurses in the coming years.

This shortage could have several negative consequences, such as increased workloads and stress for nurses already working in the field and decreased quality of care that patients receive.

What can be done to improve the situation?

There are a number of things that can be done to improve the situation for this group of caregivers.

One suggestion is that hospitals and other healthcare organizations invest in technology to help nurses manage their workloads. No, I don't mean robot nurses, rather systems and software that make our jobs more fluid.

Another suggestion is that nursing schools should focus more on preparing students for the realities of working as a nurse in today's world. This could include teaching students how to deal with stress, manage their time, and work as part of a team.

It is also essential that nurses themselves take steps to improve their well-being. This includes taking time for self-care, delegating tasks when possible, and seeking help from others when needed.

Be pre-emptive, in other words. Teach young and seasoned nurses alike how to deal with actual and potential career breakers.

What does this mean for travel nursing?

This is the part that may be the most controversial.

You see, as a nurse myself, I believe that this is the golden era of travel nursing. Now more than ever, nurses need the variety, the control, and especially the increased wages that travel nursing provides.

The COVID 19 pandemic has only further solidified my belief in the importance of travel nursing as a genuine and legitimate career option.

That said, I know that not all nurses feel this way. In fact, many younger nurses are feeling so disillusioned with nursing that they choose not to pursue a career in the profession.

If you are a Gen Z or Millennial nurse and are thinking about travel nursing, I urge you to do it. The current climate is uncertain, and the future of nursing is uncertain. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't pursue a career in nursing, especially as a travel RN.

The final word

If you are a Gen Z or Millennial nurse and are thinking about travel nursing, now may be the best time ever.

The current climate is uncertain, and the future of nursing is uncertain. But that doesn't mean that travel nursing is a lousy option. On the contrary, it may re-ignite your passion.

If all of this sounds intimidating and you're unsure if travel nursing is right for you, I suggest reaching out to some experienced travel nurses and getting their advice. They will be able to tell you about the realities of the profession and whether or not it's a good fit for you.

If anything, it means that you should be even more prepared than ever to face whatever comes your way.

So, what are your thoughts?

Is the future of travel nursing uncertain?

Are Gen Z, and Millennial nurses hit it the hardest?

Let me know in the comments below.

And as always, if you like this post, please share it with your friends and colleagues.

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I'm a freelance writer and a decades-long travel nurse. Writing about the travel nurse industry and healthcare.

San Antonio, TX
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