Nursing is a diverse workforce, not only in terms of ethnics and gender, but also in age. In our current healthcare settings, nursing is multigenerational. There are Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennial nurses. Millennial nurses are those young and new nurses who just enter the workforce. However, the turnover rates amongst millennial nurses are increasing in recent years. According to a research published by Barnett et al. (2010), the turnover rates of nurses in both government and private hospitals in Malaysia, has increased from 400 nurses in year 2005 to 1049 nurses in year 2010.
Most of the nurses who leave their professions are millennial nurses. The high turnover rates of millennial nurses result in shortage of staffs in healthcare settings and decrease the quality of patient care. According to an article by Kovner et al. (2007) entitled ‘Newly Licensed RNs’ Characteristics, Work Attitudes, and Intentions to Work’, many millennial nurses leave their jobs due to verbal abuse and workplace environment.
In this critical response, I will state my point of view by agreeing with the article by focusing on two points: verbal abuse and workplace environment.
According to Kovner et al. (2007), 62% of millennial nurses who already left their jobs experienced verbal abuse. The phrase “nurses eat their young” is very popular in this profession. The meaning of this phrase is the older nurses are abusing or bullying younger nurses. Millennial nurses are often being bullied by Baby Boomers nurses. This is because Baby Boomers have the greatest number in nursing workforce and they occupy most of the leadership positions (Buerhaus et al.
, 2000; Thrall, 2005). This might lead Baby Boomer nurses to misuse their power or position to bully the younger nurses. Older nurses also tend to see millennial nurses as less ‘powerful’ compared to them. Millennial nurses are often mistreated, humiliated by their seniors and given more workload as they have lesser experience and authority compared to older nurses. According to Strickler (2013), most of the nurses who are victims of verbal abuse tend to stay silent. This is because they are afraid of retaliation, lack of evidence and difficulty of reporting procedures. Nurses who become victims of verbal abuse will end up leaving the jobs. Hence, it is clear that verbal abuse leads to the increasing rates of turnover amongst millennial nurses.
Next, millennial nurses are the first generation learnt to care about the sustainability of workplace environment (Lavoie-Tremblay et al., 2010). According to Kovner et al. (2007), about 18% of new nurses who already left their professions, stated that they worked under stressful conditions and exposed to job hazards such as getting bruises or contusions when performing procedures, needle stick injury and cut or laceration in their workplace. Kovener et al. (2007) also stated that almost one-quarter of the new nurses reported that they faced difficulty to do their tasks due to lack of medical supplies in their workplace. According to Martin and Ottemann (2016), millennials seek for safety and security compared to Baby Boomers and Generation Xers who are willing to take risks in their workplace. Stressful working conditions, exposure to job hazards and difficulty to perform their tasks make millennial nurses feel unsafe in their workplace. Millennials also prefer fun and flexible work environment compared to Baby Boomers and Generation Xers (Martin & Ottemann, 2016). However, our current healthcare settings require nurses to work long hours and have over workload due to shortage of staffs (Kunaviktikul et al., 2015). The condition of our current healthcare setting is obviously opposite from what millennial nurses desired. Thus, high turnover rates amongst millennial nurses is clearly due to workplace environment.
In conclusion, the statement saying verbal abuse and workplace environment contribute to the high turnover rates amongst millennial nurses is true. Those two factors emerge due to generational differences. In order to decrease the turnover rates of millennial nurses, the generation gap among Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennial Nurses need to be reduce. It is anticipated that more studies can be carried out to find out the truths behind the turnover rates of millennial nurses to improve workplace environment and stop verbal abuse.