By ANA Career Center Staff – October 2014
As baby boomers approach the ends of their careers, members of this dynamic generation are looking for ways to stay active and involved. That’s great news for health care organizations, because older nurses represent a deep well of knowledge.
“The older expert nurse possessed excellent analytical problem-solving skills, had mastered the ability to navigate the health care system to create change, understood patient flow, provided extraordinary patient-centered care, had significant professional authority, and had developed intuitive skills as a result of experience and education,” according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s study “Wisdom at Work: The Importance of the Older and Experienced Nurse in the Workplace
Baby boomer nurses may be looking for career opportunities that give them a chance to pass on this expertise to a new generation of nurses. If you’re looking to try something new in your nursing career, consider one of these opportunities that are great for baby boomers.
Management or HR
Nurses may move into management positions at their organizations, such as nurse supervisor, manager or administrator. In these positions, they can take on a leadership role, pass what they’ve learned on to younger nurses, and advocate for nurses in management decisions.
“It is common for nurses to join the HR department and become recruiters as well,” says Rae Ellen Douglas, who leads the nursing practice for Kaye/Bassman International Corp., a recruiting agency. “All of these areas have less demand physically and more regular work hours than do the staff or nurse management roles.”
“The great news about being an older nurse is the awesome experience we have amassed over the years,” says Judy Brady, RN, BSN, owner of ProHealth Strategies, which provides concierge nursing services. “There are opportunities for bachelors-prepared nurses, which include teaching in the clinical environment.” In addition, Brady describes the teaching opportunities for nurses with a master’s degree as “almost endless.”
And you don’t have to limit yourself to teaching nursing. For example, teaching a health-improvement class is a great way for baby boomers to give back and pass along their wisdom and expertise to people who can use it.
As more companies seek to foster wellness among employees as a way to boost engagement and reduce health care costs, occupational health and onsite health centers have seen a resurgence. Douglas says occupational health, clinic and ambulatory settings are good options for nurses who are looking for a change beyond mid-career.
Instead of finding a job with a clinic, Bradby says starting up your own business is also an option. A vaccination clinic, employee wellness consultancy or general health education are ways nurses stay active in nursing outside a clinical setting. Bradby’s organization provides nursing services for tourist sites and businesses in Williamsburg, Va., for example.
Working on specialty jobs in post-acute care as an employee or on-call nurse is also an option, says Julianne Haydel of Haydel Consulting Services. “Home health and hospice providers always are in need of PRN staff to do visits.”
Darlene Batrowny has worked as nurse home visitor, who visits people in their homes before and after the birth of a baby. She also coordinates a countywide nurse home visiting school readiness program. Programs such as these can help detect health problems in young children early. “Although the pay may not compare to hospital pay, the benefit of knowing you can really make a difference is worth it,” she says.
Part-Time Career Opportunities for Baby Boomer Nurses
“The part-time option provides experienced nurses with an avenue to use their wisdom and expertise, without the demands of full-time work,” says Valerie Herbert, DNP, RN, CNE, the interim director for the School of Nursing at Husson University. “Part-time can take the shape of any combination of eight- or 12-hour shifts on days, evenings or nights, with most opting for 20 to 24 hours per week.”
“Part-time positions in occupational health clinics are widely available,” says Nancy Brook, MSN, RN, NP at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. She also recommends utilization review or case management. “Working for a health care system or insurance company, the need is great for nurses with strong clinical experience and excellent judgment.”
How to Find Nursing Jobs
ANA’s Career Center is an excellent place to start. Try searching for the specialty areas you’re interested in pursuing. Also, tap into your professional network to find out about options your contacts may know about. If you’re looking for part-time work, add “part-time” to your searches and bring up the possibility with your employer to see if your position could be switched to a part-time role.