More registered nurses are delaying retirement, researchers say

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Despite “imminent retirement” of baby boomers, more registered nurses are working longer after age 50, researchers find.

Those nurses older than age 50 are working 2.5 years more than RNs in previous decades, according to David I. Auerbach, policy researcher at RAND Corporation, and corresponding authors.

From 1969 to 1990, almost half of RNs were working until age 62, with less than 10% working until age 69, they found. From 1991 to 2012, 74% of nurses were working at age 62, and almost a quarter were working at age 69.

The researchers attribute this trend to the recession and the delayed retirement of baby boomer RNs, although the trend toward later retirement isn't unique to nursing, researchers noted. Plus, changes in care delivery under the Affordable Care Act suggest there may be an increase in demand for RNs to handle care coordination, management or ambulatory care. Older RNs are far more likely to work outside the hospital, the analysis showed.

“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,” the researchers wrote.

Findings were concluded by analyzing the age, employment status and hours worked of RNs included in the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.

Results were presented at the Academy Health Annual Research Meeting in San Diego, CA, on June 9, and published in Health Affairs in July.

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