Flexibility needed to keep angels at work
Retired Registered Nurse Cathy Hermes. Photo: Jay Cronan
Plans by half of Australia's nursing workforce to quit or retire over the next decade will force hospitals to offer more flexible working hours to keep Baby Boomer and many young nurses working, according to a new report.
About 200 senior and junior nurses were interviewed as part of the study commissioned by workforce management systems company Kronos.
Most of those who were planning to leave nursing said they were doing so because they wanted to retire.
But others cited overwhelming workload, unclear career progression, inflexible working hours and low salaries.
The Kronos general manager for Australia, Peter Harte, said health organisations needed to offer greater flexibility if they wanted to retain nurses as the ageing of the population drove up demand for health services. ''You've got about 370,000 nurses and midwives and about 36 per cent of those are over the age of 50,'' he said.
''If they had more nurse-friendly hours or more flexible schedules then there's a willingness to stay in the industry.''
Mr Kronos said hospitals were increasingly using technology which allowed them to more accurately forecast when patient demand was greatest and roster nurses accordingly.
Australian Nursing Federation ACT branch secretary Jenny Miragaya said many older nurses chose to retire because this enabled them to demand flexible hours in exchange for returning to work on a part-time or casual basis.
Canberra maternal and child health worker Cathy Hermes retired recently but hopes to return to work three days a week later this year.
Mrs Hermes admitted to missing work.
'It's a lovely job working with families and new babies and young children,'' she said.
''I'm probably finding it a little hard - that's why I'm hoping to get some part-time work.''
ACT Health Directorate data showed that one third of the nursing workforce was aged 50 years or older.
A Health Directorate spokeswoman said a range of flexible working arrangements has been introduced to help accommodate work/life balance for nurses.
''This can include shorter shifts to facilitate picking up and dropping off school aged children, as well as arrangements for part-time and casual employment that may assist with other roles nurses have in the community,'' the spokeswoman said.