Valuable yet Vulnerable—A review of the challenges encountered by older nurses in the workplace

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Objective As the global nursing workforce ages, developing a comprehensive understanding of the experiences, needs and values specific to older nurses is increasingly significant. This paper reviews the evidence with regard to the specific challenges encountered by older nurses in the workplace. Design A scoping review of the published literature was conducted using the electronic databases Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Science Direct and Google Scholar. A total of 20 papers were included in this review, most of which were qualitative (n = 14). Three quantitative studies were identified (including one study which combined a physical exam with survey methods) as well as three mixed method studies. Results The challenges faced by older nurses in their practice are synthesised across three primary domains: Nursing and the ageing body; Recognition and support of the older nurse and Demands associated with middle-age. Conclusion As older nurses form a substantial proportion of the healthcare workforce in many countries, the development and implementation of strategies to address these challenges is of utmost importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-52
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2017


  • Ageing nurses
  • Ageing workforce
  • Challenges
  • Older nurses
  • Stress
  • Well-being


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