Economics and the Role of the Retiree


The U.S. national population has been growing steadily, yet there have not been a sufficient number of nurses being recruited to provide services adequately. Furthermore, many of the practicing nurses are retiring at an early age because of work stress they have to endure on the job. Other groups of nurses just retire because of old age. On the contrary, the number of new nurses entering the workforce does not usually fill the gaps; labor forecasts show that, these two stages of retirement in the nursing profession make it have more shortage of nurses since they exit. It has become a common practice today to see nurses work for 12-hour shifts in the U.S. hospitals. Some even work for two consecutive shifts, and the impact has been that, this takes a toll on their efficiency breaking them down, both physically and psychologically. The patients overwhelm the workers, hence nurses suffer burnout leading to early retirement, or to the extreme, there could be disability retirement. This latter situation causes further strain on the nursing profession after workers are removed from the healthcare industry, and join the already surging patient population. This causes double strain to the nurses.

Phases of Retirement

Many Americans today, have to plan for retirement for a period of about 20 years. However, evidence shows that average retirement period now lasts longer than that. It is projected that nearly hold of those turning 65 each day will live more than 85 years as per the National center for health statistics estimates (Atchley, 2000, p. 45). Moreover, the latest US census has shown that the older generation (aged above 65 years) is the fastest growing segment of population; this means that many people will be living for up to 85 years and over (Atchley, 2000, p. 45). Very soon, living up to a century maybe normal; therefore, rather than thinking about retirement as the final stage of life, retirement is currently a progression of phases.

Phase 1: preretirement – this period ranges from the time when retirement is about to come, maybe five years to 65 year. This time there is disengagement from the workplace and planning for retirement (Hutchens, & Papps, 2004, p. 134).

Phase 2: actual Retirement – this period is when actual retirement comes, and the nurse no longer works in paid employment. Some live as if they are on vacation, others engage in busy schedules of business while others merely relax and rest.

Phase 3: disenchantment – in this period, some people find it extremely difficult to adjust to the retirement status. After the period of relaxation and enjoyment, people experience disappointment and uncertainty (Atchley, 2000, p. 56).

Phase 4: Reorientation – this period comes after about ten years of retirement when an individual feel they need to improve their lives once again. They create new strategies of bettering their lives like participating in community services, or working on their hobbies to make life more enjoyable (Hutchens, & Papps, 2004, p. 134).

Phase 5: retirement routine – this describes the time when a person has mastered a contented and rewarding retirement routine.

Phase 6: termination of retirement – this time, the individual becomes a dependant because of old age related illnesses or disability (Atchley, 2000, p. 59). The person becomes less active and remains to nurse the illness or disability.

Changing Economic Times

Most Americans agree that, retirement is something that must be planned for; moreover, it requires savings. Besides, the traditional pension plans for the retirement savings are scarce today. However, majority of Americans normally lack savings or they do not save enough for retirement (Hutchens, & Papps, 2004, p. 136). The reason behind that is that the American economy is profoundly affected by the several economic depressions.

Preretirement to actual retirement: Careful planning is essential. Even in retirement, one is required to pay taxes up to 85% of the benefits. Since the economy is facing depression and that the unemployment rate is also increasing, many people want to stay on the job for longer. However, nursing profession has so much pressure where many people want to change careers or retire early (Hardy, 2002, p.10). However, one cannot get full retirement benefits before they reach 70 years. At this time, investing in Medicare is crucial since the cost of uninsured health care is unusually high (Hutchens, & Papps, 2004, p. 136).

Disenchantment to reorientation: Lifestyle realities come after reaching 70½ years and about this time, the retired nurse can begin to withdraw from the IRA and employer sponsored retirement scheme. The penalty for forfeiting the minimum distribution is often stern, probably deducting half of what one should have withdrawn. Because of increasing cost of living, many people withdraw the money (Hutchens, & Papps, 2004, p. 144). People tend to cut their needs further so that money spent on upkeep is minimal. Inflation affects capital investments hence its pertinent to review assets allocation of investments and then diversify to other investments like stock among others (Hardy, 2002, p.10).

Retirement route to termination of retire: Legacy – this time, it is better to revise documents to ensure that personal wishes and beneficiaries are well documented- the trusts, brokerage accounts, will, and annuities are paramount here. Because of the changing economic times, one still need to remain on top of investment (Hutchens, & Papps, 2004, p. 146). Therefore, one has to review annually, their portfolio and asset allocation. Some financial companies force people to begin withdrawing annuities once they turn 85. However, because few people have enough saving while, most have none; this part of retirement is usually the most difficult and expensive for many people (Hardy, 2002, p. 12). They have to rely on working relatives or friends for care and Upkeep.

The Alternatives to Traditional Retirement

Traditional retirement is when a nurse works for thirty to forty years consistently then leave work into another period of relaxing, doing person business or enjoying hobbies (Friis, et al., 2006, p. 24). Due to the impact, such arrangements have had on people, new strategies are being developed to allocate better work retirement schemes.

Sabbaticals – the healthcare industry may allow a nurse to take sabbaticals then come back to work later. The sabbatical could take six months, which are fully paid for (Friis, et al., 2006, p. 26). During that time, the nurses could change the job for a while, like work as waiters in a café. When they return to their job, they will be re-energized. The challenge is that, with economic decline, it could be tricky to obtain these sabbaticals.

Mini-retirement is another option, where the nurses are allowed to space their time to relax and enjoy throughout their career rather than retiring once at 65. It makes sense to attempt having retirement spaces in small bits like few months (2 to 3 months) and a week of vacation (Friis, et al., 2006, p. 27). Nurses vacate from daily routine to refresh and explore other things.

Focused career breaks – these periods can last from three weeks to six months to work on a certain project mostly personal interests like writing a book. It is similar to spreading retirement throughout life (Friis, et al., 2006, p. 29). The challenge maybe that, one’s resume will have gaps.

Second careers – some nurse want to quit their job because of burn out. However, career breaks can help them to transition to the new and more pleasing alternative jobs (Friis, et al., 2006, p. 29).

Retirement Planning Effected On Younger Adults

Whereas studies indicate that young people are more concerned about the impact that the current financial turmoil has on their retirement planning, many of them do not base career choices on this. However, income level determines how their retirement life would be like. At a lower level of income, when these Americans retire, they sometimes exclusively rely on the social security supplemental income. At the upper end of income, the economic habits are not significantly affected by their spending and their lifestyles remain constant (Almada, et al., 2004, p. 269). However, for the middle-income group especially those who maybe widowed and rely on pension and social security in old age, and experience the reduced value of their investment salaries, life could be a little hard. These problems are not the main concerns of the younger adults getting into the nursing profession, but they partly play a role in their choice of jobs (Almada, et al., 2004, p. 269). However, its pertinent note that issues like scheduling, loan repayments, staffing terms, specialization, and safety at work and in the community are particularly beneficial for the young people. Many new nurses expect to earn $17-20 per hour as novices as the lowest rate. They only think of retirement planning when they get to late 20s or early 30s.

Retirement Planning Options Affect Career Selection for Younger Adults

In the past, once a person got into the working class, he/she would immediately begin to contribute to pension schemes in most cases even in their teenage years. However, today, young people value living their lives enjoyably and, therefore, spend most fraction of their income. They, in most cases, begin to save in their thirties.

Part of the reason has been that, most of them spend more on education; moreover, most young people today, due to lack of employment, tend to work part-time or in temporary jobs in their early years before getting into permanent jobs (Almada, et al., 2004, p. 269). Many industries, which used to be the route into pension, have suffered closure, or are no longer, providing such attractive pension schemes. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that retirement planning affect career choice to a remarkably limited level. Many young people prefer investment thing like housing instead of planning for retirement (Almada, et al., 2004, p. 272).


Nursing remains to be one of the most trusted professions in the US. However, this accolade does not have an attraction as in the past years particularly to the younger generation. This nursing shortage has to be taken seriously. It needs collaboration of government and healthcare industry. These nurses have needs and continue to support their patients even under pressure and stress. Hence, to improve their motivation, the government has to look into those things, which now attract young people to certain jobs. There is a notion that nursing is stressing and a demanding job. However, the state could offer flexible scheduling, better salary, and specialized graduate programs. When such measures are in place, nursing may once again begin to attract more young people hence retirement will not be a problem to the future of the profession anymore.

Reference List

Almada, P., Carafoli, K., Flattery, J.B., French, D. A., & McNamara, M. (2004). Improving the Retention Rate of Newly Graduated Nurses. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 20(6), 268-273.

Atchley, R. C. (2000). Social Forces and Aging (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Friis, K., Ekholm, O., Hundrup, E., Obel, B., & Gronbaek. (2006). Influence of Health, Lifestyle, Working Conditions, and Sociodemography on Early Retirement among Nurses: The Danish Nurses Cohort Study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 35, 23-30.

Hardy, M. (2002). The Transformation of Retirement in Twentieth-Century America: From Discontent to Satisfaction. Generations, 26(11), 9-16.

Hutchens, R., & Papps, K. (2004). Developments in Phased Retirement. In: R.L. Clark & O.S. Mitchell (Eds.), Reinventing the Retirement Paradigm (pp. 133-162.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.

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