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Nurses of different ages must 'respect' each other


The mix of ages within the nursing workforce can increase high stress levels and harm patient care in the process, German researchers claim.

They have called on nursing directors to ensure conflict between age groups is kept to a minimum and that nurses appreciate the values of each other’s age groups.

The researchers, from the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, based their conclusions on a survey of 138 hospital nurses.

German nurses are required to pass an official state exam in nursing to qualify, following a three year course, which may or may not be to degree level.   

The researchers said their findings suggested a more diverse age group could lead to a “clash of values” due to different styles of training received, technology competency and varying communication patterns.

This could in turn lead to increased stress, work-life imbalance and a withdrawal from commitment.

“While age diversity can lead to increased creativity and a greater richness of values and skills, it can also lead to value clashes, disrespect of each other’s viewpoints, and increased conflict,” they stated in the journal Nursing and Health Sciences.

Study author Zhike Lei said:  “In the nursing profession there exists the highest stress levels of almost any profession and there is also considerable task ambiguity.

“The handover of patients from nurse to nurse is a vital moment in a patient’s care. However when the younger nurses refuse to take older nurses seriously, and older nurses refuse to listen to junior nurses, the patient is the one who suffers.”

Professor Lei called on managers to devote adequate time to developing trust between their nurses.

She said: “Nursing directors and head physicians must make significant time to ensure nurses are aware of the benefits of each other’s respective age groups, and impose a realisation that age diversity is positive, as it gives a broader perspective and offers a better representation of patient groups.”

She added: “Age diversity issues are a general phenomenon. It is a human issue rather than an industry specific one and as a result is something managers must look at closely.”


Readers' comments (6)

  • “The handover of patients from nurse to nurse is a vital moment in a patient’s care. However when the younger nurses refuse to take older nurses seriously, and older nurses refuse to listen to junior nurses, the patient is the one who suffers.”

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  • any evidence to show that this happens in the UK?

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  • yes this evidence! its the matter of experience,skills over the years and empathy yes the magic word to all including patients, you have to learn and grow into nursing it is a on going skill in it self and has to be updated when ever?older or younger,they all have done the basic three years i have both age groups ask my a pinnion on thing and am a older aux with experience ,I think before becoming a student nurse get basic ward aux work for2/3 years get more practical under your belt,because i have work along side students, 1 ,2,3,year and newley trained and junior nurses and some days they are sh**ing them selves under pressure, yes the patients feel it and don't like to press their call button???

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  • One word which sums this up . . . respect. This seems to be lost amongst nursing staff in some cases. This is happening in the uk it can't be hidden anymore as the rcn have launched a campaign as it is clear that the press and public have concerns about the reputation of nursing and recent bad press. It starts at the roots of morals, respect for each other which encompasses teamwork at this critical point in the economy and nhs shake up. I'm not a manager or have any authority but it's my belief and feel saddened that this is the reality that most of us face everyday at work. It's got to change for the sake of our patients. If this is addressed then it would improve the quality of care, improve communication, improve staff performance and reduce the number of errors and capability refferrals. As alot of capability refferals have a root cause being these behaviours, it needs to be addressed.

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  • here! here! so is going to set the cogs turning the rcn back to basics respect,duty,empathy,thought,etc it should start there? your right morals,respect,communication,quality care.
    its no good getting someone and paying them lots of money to sit on but!

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  • I have just left my current ward due to this exact problem.

    Having been only qualified under 2 years myself I have been shocked to see those newer than myself join the ward only to suck up to managers and moan about and belittle older staff.

    I find it disgusting, nurses old and new should share knowledge and support each other.

    Yes things have moved on and I myself have pointed something's out to nurses with 30 years experience but there are ways of doing so.

    Incidentally I am 38, those that show disrespect are a lot younger than me and seemingly lack respect for senior nurses.

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