- When are baby-boomer registered nurses (RNs) retiring?
- What are the implications for the RN workforce in the future?
The size of the registered nurse (RN) workforce has surpassed forecasts from a decade ago, growing to 2.7 million in 2012 instead of peaking at 2.2 million. Much of the difference is the result of a surge in new nursing graduates. However, the size of the RN workforce is particularly sensitive to changes in retirement age, given the large number of baby-boomer RNs now in the workforce. We found that in the period 1969–90, for a given number of RNs working at age fifty, 47 percent were still working at age sixty-two and 9 percent were working at age 69. In contrast, in the period 1991–2012 the proportions were 74 percent at age 62 and 24 percent at age 69. This trend, which largely predates the recent recession, extended nursing careers by 2.5 years after age fifty and increased the 2012 RN workforce by 136,000 people. Because many RNs tend to shift out of hospital settings as they age, employers seeking RNs for nonhospital roles may welcome (and seek to capitalize on) the growing numbers of experienced RNs potentially able to fill these positions.
- RNs are extending their careers, working about 14 more years beyond age 50, compared with 11.5 years prior to 1990.
- Older RNs are more likely to work outside the hospital setting.
- These older RNs may be in demand to meet ACA-induced changes in care delivery that require care coordination, management, and ambulatory care.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.