Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Gen Y Nurse

The newest generation to enter our workforce, and the largest since the Boomers, is Generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000 — also known as the Millennials, Generation Next, MyPod generation, GenY, Digital Natives, Echoboomers, and the Boomerang Generation (Kogan, 2001).

This generation is globally aware, well educated, wired, and technologically sophisticated. Nexters have positive expectations and a desire for collective action (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 2000). Life experience of the Nexters has created a generation that possesses traits such as a lack of trust in corporations, a focus on personal success, and a short-term career perspective. Nexters have a desire to improve everyday life by volunteering and giving back.

This generation has a great ability to multitask and maintain several dialogues, which makes them versatile communicators. While this generation communicates through technology, they remain quite savvy in verbal communication skills (Melik, 2007).

Nexters have been exposed to technology from birth, using technology since their years as a toddler. Nexters access information 24/7; therefore, they expect to work anytime and anyplace. Using the Web for information and social networking is part of the Nexter's core competencies. Web-based social networking and accessing information on such sites as LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace are normal practices.

YouTube already has a few videos created by young members of the nursing profession. Each video exhibits out-of-the-box thinking, with the intent to recruit people into the nursing profession. One video done by students at Decker School of Nursing is titled "Bring Nursing Back" (2006). This video has had 140,000 views through November 2007. The other, created by emergency center nurses from the University of Alabama, recruits candidates through a hip approach ("UAB Emergency Room Rap," 2007). This video has been posted not only to YouTube, but has also appeared on Yahoo video.

Parents of this generation have been highly invested and involved with their growth. Some critics call this generation coddled. They may require more mentoring up front, but have shown an ability to make dramatic and constructive changes to the workforce in the short time they have been a part of it. According to Claudia Tattanelli, CEO, Universum Communications, this generation gets a bad rap but has an "incredible will to make changes" ("The bottom line on next gen workers," 2007).

As a whole, younger workers can take great work risks; therefore, they are more mobile and able to pursue better jobs anywhere. The workplace will need to adapt to the attitudes and needs of this generation (Rasmus, 2007).

Each generation comes to the workforce table with different life experiences. Each communicates and perceives verbal and nonverbal messaging differently. While this does create complex work environments, it also presents a wonderful opportunity to put these diverse approaches to initiate new innovative practices.

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