The 88 million members of the Millennial cohort (1980-2002) are making a huge impact on the American workforce and the future of the country. According to recent news, they recently surpassed the Baby Boomers as the #1 largest generational group in recent times and will dominate--and eventually lead--workplaces.
It's in nursing's best interest to welcome the Millennial generation into the profession and to provide the structure and feedback they need to make a successful transition to the workforce. It's only be a matter of time before Millennial workers take leadership roles within nursing, and it is expected their comfort with technology will be transformational for the profession.
To set the stage for the future of the nursing profession, Millennials will require more structured entry and orientation programs, including post-graduate residencies, on-the-job mentoring and guidance, and frequent feedback and learning opportunities.
Some characteristics of the Millennial generation include:
So what are some strategies to successfully lead Millennials?
Even though technology has changed the way nurses do documentation, human interaction with patients is a constant. Overall assessment, dressing wounds, changing lines, and transferring patients has not been altered much through technology. Intimate contact, both physical and emotional, is still a hallmark of nursing, and nurses remain caregivers at heart.
Juggling multiple patient needs with physician demands and maintaining the ability to keep sight of the big picture has not become any easier.
This is where solid onboarding programs, mentorship opportunities and nursing residency programs can make all the difference both to new nurses and the patients in their care. The Millennial generation is accustomed to structure, guidance and intervention from their parents and teachers, and will likely expect the same in their careers. In nursing, it should be demanded, as there are few other professions with as much responsibility.
Skills labs offer a safe learning environment for student nurses, and an opportunity to learn from mistakes made without patient consequences, therefore building both knowledge and confidence of new practitioners.
Students should be exposed to the clinical setting through shadowing, collaboration, and conversation with practitioners at the bedside. Today’s Magnet® recognized hospitals offer opportunities to observe shared governance practices, problem solving communication, and professional interactions between nurses and among the interdisciplinary team. Student nurses should be exposed to the resources available to professional nurses in shaping and improving their work environments.
In addition, the interpersonal people skills required in nursing should be a focus in nursing education for Millennials. Communication at all levels, comfort with close and intimate proximity to strangers, and the ability to negotiate and delegate without bullying or being bullied are skills that must be modeled for new practitioners.
Health care employers would be wise to set out well-defined career tracks for Millennial RNs entering the workforce. An opportunity for career growth could enhance retention and provide a smooth transition of power in coming decades. Now is the time to engage Millennials and help them help us create nursing’s future.
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