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The transitional process of retirement for nurses

Journal of Professional Nursing
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s8755-7223(98)80012-4


Retirement exemplifies one of the most important transitions in life. A job provides structure to daily life, adds to a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, and is a means of self-expression, all of which define and identify the person. This work activity links individuals to a society and to a social network. When an individual retires, there is a loss of one role and a beginning of a new one. The purpose of this research was to explore the periretirement period of nurses to better understand the transitional process. A qualitative approach was chosen to enable the researchers to explore in-depth perceptions and opinions of this subjective experience. Interview questions were developed from the literature to determine the perceptions of preparation, barriers, and facilitators in the process, losses, gains, and coping strategies that were helpful. A purposive sample of female nurses from academic institutions and hospitals were invited to participate in one of three focus groups. All were invited to a fourth focus group session during which the findings from the researchers were presented and the participants verified the results. Of the 19 participants, 11 had retired, whereas 8 were in the preretirement phase. Four nurses had accepted an incentive retirement offered at their institution. The conversations were taped, transcribed, and analyzed. Thematic analysis identified both positive and negative aspects of the experience with concerns related to finances, timing of retirement, discretionary time, and relationships. Participants frequently expressed feelings of inadequacy with the numerous decisions related to finances and wished the institution had provided more information. They perceived the most enjoyable gain to be the time to enjoy and do the things they wished. The prevalent feeling among the groups was that the loss of work friends was very difficult. Old relationships would need to be fostered and new ones developed in the retiree role. Based on the findings, support services, including advisers and counselors, are recommended to ease the movement through this transitional process. The assumption is that if individuals have a better understanding of the retirement process and their new role, they will prepare and adjust better.

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