Martha Carr, RN, shows the inside of a central line cart at WellStar Cobb. Grouping supplies together helps doctors and nurses more easily follow a checklist for handling central lines. WellStar Cobb stands out in Georgia for its success in preventing these infections.
Photo: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com
Photo: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

What millennial nurses want veteran nurses to know

Millennials – usually defined as those born between 1981 and 1996 – are having a large impact on nursing. They're entering the profession in large numbers and are almost twice as likely to become nurses as baby boomers. Although they're helping alleviate nursing shortages, their ranks aren't large enough to eliminate them entirely, so as young nurses, they may face mounting pressures.

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Nurses in this group are anywhere from age 23 to 38 this year, according to Pew Research Center, and they share a common goal with their older, more experienced peers – making other people's lives better. Millennials were raised with the belief that their input has value, so they tend to be good collaborators, nurse.org said. They're tech-savvy and are good at multi-tasking, but they may not have the strongest interpersonal communication skills thanks to text messaging and social media.

Their worldview and way of doing things can be different, and this can sometimes lead to a generation gap in the workplace.

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AJC.com asked some millennial nurses about their experiences and how veteran nurses can make things easier or inadvertently more difficult for them.

J. "Nicole" Saddler, a nurse at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, has found it helpful when veteran nurses encourage questions at any stage of a younger nurse's career and by being supportive. 

Words of affirmation from older nurses can also go a long way, she wrote.

"Millennials tend to be perfectionists," according to Sadder, but that shouldn't be confused with being a know-it-all.

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Millennial nurses bring their own perspectives, ideas and practices to the table, wrote Marli Muller, a nurse at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. If nurses are open to collaboration, this leads to better patient outcomes.

"At the end of the day, we work best as a team," she wrote.

For Macie Richards of Emory Johns Creek Hospital, more experienced nurses have made things easier by simply reaching out to her. This has made her want to be equally helpful to her fellow employees.

"We are eager to learn and truly desire to grow just so that we may care for the patients better," she wrote. "We're willing to try new things, make mistakes and be a part of something bigger."

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Dylan Wright, a nurse at WellStar Kennestone Hospital, finds patience from veteran nurses to be particularly helpful.

Since nursing school can't provide training for every single scenario that nurses face on the job, veteran nurses can provide a great deal of guidance to millennials, he wrote.

"Our successes as new nurses are a positive reflection of the mentorship provided by a community of nurses," Wright wrote.

As helpful as veteran nurses are, millennials sometimes find certain things unhelpful.

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For example, Richards wrote, veteran nurses can sometimes assume that new graduates have prior knowledge, skills or experience that they don't necessarily have, and this can be discouraging.

Veteran nurses can also sometimes expect millennials to learn using the same methods they used, Saddler wrote. Teaching methods should sometimes be adjusted for younger nurses, especially as it pertains to technology.

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