Retired Nurses Going Back to Work

Once again, this idea has stirred up controversy.

I had to chuckle because once again, the allnurses.com Nursing News page had a piece about the benefits of having retired nurses re-enter the workforce. Not surprisingly, nurses posted comments that ranged from being completely supportive of this idea to those that were in complete opposition. I remember that the idea of having retired nurses (who presumably are older in age, but have a great deal of nursing experience) re-enter the workforce has been floated before, as have variations on this theme (eg, retired nurses volunteering or working part time in healthcare).

Nurses in support of retired nurses re-entering the workforce spoke to the wisdom and experience of retired nurses. The nurses in opposition of this idea cited a number of reasons to not support this idea, including the current lack of available nursing jobs, the need for many nurses to keep working "until we die" as one nurse phrased it, and the general lack of confidence in a retired nurse having current skills and abilities. One nurse wrote that her back is killing her and she is in a constant state of exhaustion---at the age of 28--so she wonders how significantly older nurses would be able to handle the physical demands of nursing jobs if they re-entered the workforce. "And that's just the physical demands of the job, there's also the mental demands and frustration," she added.

I can't imagine nurses leaving retirement to re-enter the nursing workforce given its current state of existence (high stress, heavy workload, intensity of the workload, etc). It would be wonderful if nursing expertise was used in expanded or new ways (eg, increased use of nurses in delivering primary and preventive care, utilizing nurses in consulting roles when healthcare facilities are designed or renovated, etc); this might attract retired nurses back into the workforce. Unfortunately, nursing wisdom is not valued in the healthcare system as it should be. Instead, for the most part, we're still using the "warm body" approach to staffing. Hopefully, this is going to change.