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With the continued expansion and growth of the health industry, challenges among nurses from the four generations are yet to be eliminated. The practicality of reconciling the differing aspects of these generations at the workplace has been a topic of discussion in many forums (Lyons & Kuron, 2014). Though the various generations have positive contributions to make in whatever field, there remains a challenge of maintaining balance while ensuring a high level of competence and service delivery. This paper seeks to look into the four generations of nurses, the characteristics of these generations as well as the lessons to be learned from the select generations.
The Four Generations
This generation has nurses born during the first and second World Wars. They underwent economic privations such as the Great Depression, were hierarchical, and had a tendency to stick at their places of work even long after their retirement (Hendricks & Cope, 2013). This was largely due to the incentives offered by the government to avoid brain drain. As part of their characteristics, they were very disciplined, hardworking, loyal and embraced teamwork as well as respect for those in authority.
Nurses under this generation were born during a time of economic thrive and at a time of free expression. They have a mentality of entitlement, and though they are resolute, they desire to be seen and have their work appreciated by way of perks and/or recognition (Jobe, 2014). For instance, they feel valued upon a salary increment, promotions, and positions of leadership. On the other hand, they tend to seek instant gratification.
Under this generational category, nurses are known to be very individualist with regards to how they approach work and have no regard whatsoever for teamwork. Furthermore, they pay more focus on the outcome as opposed to the process leading to the outcome. This group is however good in managing time and nurses under this category work under minimal or no supervision at all (Keys, 2014). They can nonetheless be uncertain and ambiguous in some instances. Even so, they are known for the ability to adapt quickly to change.
This generation of nurses includes all the nurses that lived through 1980 to the present day. Their thrive is pinned on the ability to create a balance between the workplace and home. The manner in which they work and engage in work unrelated activities is seamless (Jobe, 2014). These nurses can easily adapt to change, are well versed in technology and more importantly, do not believe in assumptions without first critically challenging the credibility and the viability of the assumptions.
Some of the character traits include the ability to synthesize much information quickly. This generation values lateral career movements and the ability to adapt to technological changes is rapid which at times causes a neophyte in the working environment.
I belong to the Millennial generation. I believe I fit into this group because I am part of the nurses that have existed between 1980 to the present day. More importantly, though I fit into the Millennial generation, I consider myself as someone with a great potential of synthesizing, quickly, an enormous amount of information. I also value lateral career movement, and peer support is something I enjoy as a member of this group. Millennials are also technology savvy, something I completely relate with (Jobe, 2014). I believe technology can solve almost everything if used well.
Lessons to Learn from the Veterans
Although I do not belong to the generation of Veterans, having been long after the World Wars, there are many lessons to draw from the group. Nurses from the Millennial generation can learn the values of teamwork and discipline (Hendricks & Cope, 2013). These two elements are very fundamental for any healthy and productive work environment.
The Veterans, on the other hand, can learn a lot from my group. For instance, they could learn always to challenge given assumptions before accepting or believing them at face value. Equally, they could cultivate the art of gathering information and its management.
This generation has strong work ethics and believes in getting work dome regardless of how difficult it may be (Hendricks & Cope, 2013). Most of these nurses were either wives to military men or worked in the military. Such an environment toughened them up in their careers. Dedication and sacrifice may be said to be elements associated with them.
We can do it today.
From the discussion, it is evident that generational diversity is part of our society and is here to stay. In the nursing career, it is an aspect with both its detriments and benefits depending on how it is viewed and handled. For example, the varying skills and values from the four generations if incorporated into the workforce are bound to improve service delivery. It is therefore essential to incorporate the various generations at the workplace with the intent of having a cohesive team. The nursing industry is an industry where multiple disciplines have to function together so as to optimize the services offered to patients.
- Hendricks, J. M., & Cope, V. C. (2013). Generational diversity: what nurse managers need to know. Journal of advanced nursing, 69(3), 717-725.
- Jobe, L. L. (2014). Generational differences in work ethic among 3 generations of registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Administration, 44(5), 303-308.
- Keys, Y. (2014). Looking ahead to our next generation of nurse leaders: Generation X Nurse Managers. Journal of nursing management, 22(1), 97-105.
- Lyons, S., & Kuron, L. (2014). Generational differences in the workplace: A review of the evidence and directions for future research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35(S1).