The Multigenerational Workforce: Boomers and Xers and Nets, Oh MY!
Response by Matthew C. Sharpe to "Integrating Generational Perspectives in Nursing" by Marla J. Weston, MS, RN (May 31, 2006)
I am writing in support of Weston's (2006) article discussing relationships between four generations of nurses. I, too, have noticed that generational perspectives influence our interactions with other nurses, health care providers, and our patients across the lifespan. For example, a young nurse taking care of an elderly patient creates a much different interaction than an older nurse caring for a younger patient. Aside from generational issues, countertransference may lead to the nurse treating older patients as if they are a grandparent. Conversely, older nurses may treat younger patients as if they are a child or grandchild.
Another factor considered briefly by Weston is that of gender. As a young, Generation X, male nurse I have experienced the challenging but rewarding milieu of a profession dominated by female nurses of the Veteran and Baby Boomer Generations. Although my transition to nursing has been relatively smooth, I have indeed noticed how gender and generational differences have influenced me. Interacting with nurses, physicians, administrators, technicians, and patients from a variety of ethnic, religious, gender, and generational backgrounds has expanded my perspective and enriched my practice as a nurse. I have personally found that workplace diversity, while presenting challenges and struggles at times, is well worth the rewards that it brings to the individual nurse, the profession, and the healthcare system as a whole.
Matthew C. Sharpe, BA, BSN, RN
Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, University of Rochester
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Student, University of Rochester School of Nursing