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Running head: BABY BOOMERS 1

Effects of the Baby Boomers and Nursing

Tiffany L. Rothe

James Madison University


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Abstract

United States population in 1946, following World War II, was compared to the population in

1964 (Baby-boom). Data has proven that there was a significant increase in population during

that period. Then, data was compared to the population from 1965 to 1979 (Generation-X). The

result was a significant decrease in population. Concerns arose evolving around the future for

nursing considering that much of the growing population from 1946-1964 would be in their later

years in life from 2014-2026. Research showed that there will be a shortage in nursing due to

that population retiring; creating an even greater demand to provide medical treatment to that

aging population. If the government were to make funding available to offer higher wages for

nurses and if there was a way to entice people with a free college education, I feel the nursing

field might grow and be able to adapt to the influx of the aging patients. This paper is meant to

help nurses understand why there is currently a steady increase in patient population.
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Effects of the Baby Boomers and Nursing

Following World War II, United States soldiers came home with the intent to start a

family and make something of themselves. The Government Issue (GI) bill was initiated so that

the soldiers would have the ability to go to college post-war (Baby Boomers, 2010). With the

return of soldiers, resulting in the formation of larger families, it created a problem for today due

to that population now being in their senior years. The United States will go through a period

where the demand for nurses will increase due to retiring nurses from the Baby-boom

population. Also, problems will arise from an increase in patients seeking medical attention

from that generation (Buerhaus, Auerbach, & Staiger, 2017).

After World War II was over in 1945; many couples across the states decided to create

families. According to Baby Boomers (2010);

Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, the cry of the baby was

heard across the land, as historian Landon Jones later described the trend. More

babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in

1945. This was the beginning of the so-called baby boom. In 1947, another 3.8

million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952; and more than 4 million

were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off.

By then, there were 76.4 million baby boomers in the United States. They

made up almost 40 percent of the nations population.

So, according to the United States Census Bureau (2017), in 1946 the average population was

141.4 million. As time progressed, it showed significant growth when being compared to the

population in 1964 where there were 191.9 million people. That showed a 49.7 million increase

in people for that period. From 1965 to 1979, the generation following the baby-boom, the
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population went from 194.3 to 225.1 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017). That was only a 30.8

million difference.

One must consider the impact this will have on the field of nursing. One perspective to

consider is that the increase of 49.7 million will get older. Currently, the babies that were born

following World War II and 1964 will be between the ages of 55 and 70. Theres much to

consider when trying to understand how this will influence the nursing field; as well as the

government with social security. Not only will nurses lose a lot of co-workers due to retirement,

but they will also be forced to cope with an increase in patient population due to the increased

geriatric population demand. Even though people are living longer, according to Bradley

University, boomers also have higher rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and

diabetes, which exacerbate this challenge (Aging Baby Boomer Population, 2016). With

increasing instances of co-morbidities, a strain will be placed on the field of nursing since there

will be a decrease in nurses and the elderly often require more hospitalizations (Aging Baby

Boomer Population, 2016). This poses a fundamental problem in the medical field for the years

2014 to 2026.

Another thing to consider is the effect this will have on the economy and Supplemental

Security Income (SSI). While the GI bill helped to create more jobs for society, and caused an

increase in the funds for SSI; it also created a problem for future generations when they reach

retirement. This is because the funds would significantly decrease due to so many people retiring

at the same time while drawing from SSI. According to the Social Security Administration,

Social Security evolved in 1935 and was created to give income security to the elderly during

their retirement period. The amount of money they were to receive depended on the amount of

earnings gained from a single persons employment. This changed due to mothers staying home
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while husbands worked to provide for the family. This would mean that as the father was to age,

his social security earnings would have to help fund the wife that stayed home with the children.

This was a problem because it was never meant to be known as a replacement for income

(Butrica, Iams, & Smith, 2005). With this information, one can clearly see that eventually the

money will run out. This means that there will be a decrease in funds available to take care of

these patients as they approach their final years of life.

An increase in the geriatric population resulting in: a decrease in income for the retired

individual, longer lifespans, increasing comorbidities, increasing medical treatment costs, and an

increase in insurance premiums; one can see how much large of an effect this is going to have on

the field of nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,857,180 nurses

employed in the United States in 2016 (Registered Nurses, 2016). While that seems like a lot

of employed nurses; it is estimated that between now and 2030, one million nurses will retire

(Buerhaus, Auerbach, & Staiger, 2017). This is almost half of the current nursing population.

It is also important to remember that not only is there a decrease in the number of nurses,

but a decrease in the amount of years of experience that is lost. When there is a decrease in the

number of well-educated nurses inexperienced staff struggle to want to stay committed to a job.

They in-turn must cope with increased patient loads, due to decreased staff, all while trying to

gain experience in the field of nursing (Plawecki, H. & Plawecki, L., 2015). There is also the

problem of an increased demand of nursing school faculty coinciding with the shortage of

nurses.

So, the question is how does this problem get fixed? There are many ways that new

nurses can still gain enough knowledge from nurses that are deciding to retire in the next couple

of years. It is also important for these more experienced nurses to use their years of experience to
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encourage newer nurses to want to expand their knowledge as they grow in the field of nursing.

Other ways to improve this problem are: allowing nurse practitioners to give the care that they

were trained to give rather than creating barriers, remembering to strengthen nurse leadership so

that they are more comfortable to be included in making policy changes that deal with healthcare

and the future of nursing, using data to help understand workforce needs for the future, increase

nursing education and the training given so that nurses can aspire to receive more advanced

degrees, and having nursing staff that provide diverse care that coincides with the general

population (Hassmiller & Quinn, 2015). One must be receptive with finding innovative ways to

deal with these challenges.

In conclusion, it is important that nurses gain understanding of the value of their mark in

the nursing profession. It is also important for the retiring nurse to remember that the knowledge

they have acquired is valuable to any nurse no matter where they are in their practice. One must

appreciate the economic value from the rise in population that occurred after World War II with

the Baby-boomer generation to today, where the field of nursing is ever-growing. It is also

important that one understands the implications it will have on the future as that increased

population ages. The nursing profession is ever-growing and so is the amount of education

expected from it.


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References

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Baby boomers. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/baby-boomers

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U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). U.S. and world population clock. Retrieved from

https://www.census.gov/popclock/