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The Main Issues Gen Z Nurses Face

Each generation of nurses has unique characteristics that call for specialized educational and workplace approaches to help them succeed. The American Nurses Foundation (ANA) recently released new survey findings from nearly 12,000 nurses across the country. Results indicated some concerning data about Generation Z (commonly called Gen Z) participants, or those born between 1995 and the early 2010s.

When it comes to training your Gen Z employees, it’s helpful to understand some common features of the age group – especially the workplace obstacles they’re grappling with. Here are the 3 biggest issues Gen Z nurses are facing:

1. Mental health 

While nursing has always been a mentally stressful career, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have taken an extreme toll on younger nurses. Almost half of nurses under age 35 reported seeking professional mental health support since March 2020. For those under age 25, 69% say they’ve experienced burnout, which is more than twice the number cited by those over age 25 (30%). Another disturbing finding: nurses under age 25 (47%) and nurses between 25- 34 (46%) consider themselves not at all emotionally healthy, compared to nurses over the age of 55 (19%).

2. Workplace violence 

According to the survey, workplace violence against nurses is also on the rise. About 2/3 of nurses surveyed said they’ve experienced increased bullying at work, while 1/3 report increased incidents of physical violence on the job. Another survey from National Nurses United showed that 48% of nurses experienced a small or significant spike in workplace violence, a nearly 18 percentage point increase compared to 30% in September and 21% in March 2021.

While workplace violent isn’t specific to Gen Z nurses, research indicates that younger nurses are more likely to experience nurse-on-nurse bullying. This is likely due to the hierarchal nature of intergenerational workplace structures in healthcare facilities, where older employees tend to have more authority.

3. Social skills 

Gen Z doesn’t know a world without internet access. Even the oldest members of the generation were born after the worldwide web was established. Because of this, Gen Z is most accustomed to interacting digitally. Their reliance technology makes Gen Z more likely to have underdeveloped social and relationship skills, which may make it difficult for them to connect with patients and coworkers.

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