On average, nurses in the United States today are more than 45 years of age. With that many Baby Boomer and Gen-X nurses in the workforce, younger nurses are running into the negative stereotypes that have been attached to the millennial generation. Let’s look at ways millennial nurses can overcome pre-conceived notions and prove themselves to their older, more experienced colleagues.
Look within before you leap. In a recent survey, almost half of millennial workers under the age of 34 were actively considering a new job. The negative stereotype that is often attached to millennials is that they aren’t as loyal as older workers and they tend to job hop. One way to overcome that notion is for Millennials to seek new opportunities within their current organization instead of immediately looking outside. Millennials were raised in the technology era where external stimuli and multitasking is the rule rather than the exception. This can lead to boredom with the daily routine and the need to seek new challenges and stimuli. Before hitting the job boards, find out how you can become more involved in your current workplace. Join a committee, ask for new training opportunities, or champion an issue that is important to you and take it up the chain of command.
Everyone is entitled to a trophy. While it is hard to ignore the facts that millennials were raised in an era where everyone gets a trophy just for participating rather than winning. The efforts to shield our children from getting hurt feelings has leveled an often times unfair stereotype that Millennials feel entitled and are content to just show up. For millennial nurses, this is hardly a valid criticism with lives in the balance, but there are still ways to completely dispel that label. The best way to prove yourself in the workplace, no matter your age, is by earning the respect of your co-workers. Work with the intent of proving your worth and demonstrate a willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful. That type of attitude and work ethic is what will earn you the trophy of advancement opportunities and new responsibilities.
Look up from your phone. Millennials do spend a lot of time on their mobile devices. Raised in an era of technology, innovation, and instant communication, there are times when the phone becomes a barrier to success in the workplace. In the workplace, communicate with your fellow nurses in the break room. Engage in the conversations and develop the interpersonal relationships that are so important to any successful team. Obviously, every workplace is different with regard to carrying a phone, and it is important to understand and follow those rules first. However, at break or lunch time, instead of checking social media accounts other online activities, take the time to get to know your co-workers in person and unconnected.
Find a mentor. A millennial stereotype that can ultimately work to your advantage is the notion that millennials need constant direction and affirmation. When you are new to a job, there will naturally be a period of time where you are building up your confidence and even your independence. One way to help that process is to find a nurse mentor. Having a seasoned professional available to provide you with guidance and an alternative perspective early in your career can be very beneficial. Mentors have typically been through most of the situations you will be facing as a young nurse. Bouncing ideas off of your mentor can help you learn to find your voice and navigate unfamiliar workplace relationships and situations. Your manager will take notice as well, as it displays initiative, a willingness to learn and dedication to professional growth. All are important traits that managers and even other staff want to see in the newest team members.
Dealing with stereotypes is never fair, but it is a fact of life for all of us. As a millennial, knowing the typical stereotypes gives you a better idea of how you can overcome them, whether they are fair or not. View them as a challenge and actively work towards dispelling them through your deeds and your words. Set yourself apart from other millennials who may not be as self-aware and you will quickly gain acceptance and earn the respect of your colleagues.
Share your thoughts on millennial stereotypes in the comment section below. What situations have you experienced as a “boomer” working with Millennials or vice versa? We would love to hear your story here or on our Facebook page.