For the first time in its 9-year history, the Michigan Center for Nursing’s 2014 Survey finds the total number of nurses holding a Michigan license is decreasing, while the rate of nurses leaving the profession is increasing.
The total number of licensed nurses in Michigan fell by 5,764 or 3.5%. Specifically, the number of registered nurses (RNs) decreased by 2,032, or 2.2%. Not only is the total population of Michigan nurses declining, but also the number of nurses with licenses who are no longer practicing the profession, is increasing.
Almost two in five respondents-39.3%- are older than 55, and more than 7% are older than 65. The proportion of nurses older than 55 has more than doubled since 2004.
In the 2014 study, more than 16% of respondents indicated they voluntarily left nursing for retirement, a career break, or to pursue a non-nursing position. This number has grown five percentage points since 2004, from 11% of respondents reporting this status.
Unfortunately, other survey results suggest this trend will continue, as the pace of nurses who voluntarily leave the profession for retirement increases, and outpaces those entering nursing.
Survey results of nurses’ plans to retire closely mirrors the results on age. More than 41% of the respondents plan to retire within the next 10 years, while 21% plan to retire in the next five years. The number of nurses planning to retire within the next 5 years has almost doubled since 2004.
What does this mean for the future of nursing in Michigan?
One major source of concern, if we wish to promote health and advance nursing education in Michigan, should be this loss of experienced nurses from the profession. If the number of nurses leaving the profession outpaces the number entering, who will mentor, guide, teach, precept, and support Michigan’s future nurses? Efforts to recruit, educate, and mentor new nurses are as essential to the health of Michigan, and to advancing the profession, as are the actions taken to retain our more experienced and wise nurses. Clearly, there is work to do.
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