Millennial Nurses Leading the Way


Published: 29 June 2019

In nursing and medicine, a generational shift is bringing to light the fact that Millennial nurses are poised to truly lead the way into the future of 21st-century healthcare.

Four Generations of Nurses

Four generations currently make up the worldwide workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. As Gen X is a small generation, Baby Boomers continue to age and retire in larger numbers, and most of Gen Z is still very young, Millennials are the individuals who will inevitably rise into positions of leadership, power and greater responsibility – in fact, they already are.

While every generational shift inevitably sees a certain amount of criticism toward the younger generation and resistance to change on the part of those ageing out of the system, it’s a fact that Millennial nurses are those tasked with carrying the profession forward into a complex and promising future.

Adjusting to change, welcoming new styles of leadership and the broadening of perspectives can breathe new life into any profession or industry.

This present day is no different, and the direction of nursing over the next several decades will largely be determined by the decisions, outlook and general philosophy of Millennial nurses who accept the responsibility to move the profession forward.

Open-Minded and Tolerant

For many observers, one hallmark of this younger generation is that acceptance of differences is a standard way of interacting with the world. Surveys published by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and the Scanlon Foundation report Mapping Social Cohesion have found that Millenials are more likely to be part of or accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community (Ring 2017), and are more likely to be accepting of cultural diversity (Dengate 2016).

From same-sex marriage and transgender rights to immigration and the rights of religious and racial minorities, Millennials bring a refreshing open-mindedness to the table, with a broad vision and a ‘live-and-let-live’ philosophy.

These cultural shifts have shown that Millennials are first to embrace a more tolerant worldview wherein every individual deserves the right to happiness, freedom, self-determination and personal expression.

In healthcare, emerging young leaders who authentically champion open-mindedness and tolerance can have a large impact on how healthcare is delivered, as well as influence the relationships between staff members and the necessary teamwork that provides such skilled care.

With a welcoming and accepting philosophy becoming more widely accepted throughout culture, the hope remains that discrimination and inequalities will become more of a rarity in our worldwide healthcare system. Such inspired leadership can help bring about this highly-necessary change.


Embracing Technology

With a lifetime of adapting to novel tech advances, the younger generation can provide leadership to those who are slower to accept new forms of care delivery and documentation.

As robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) become more widespread in both acceptance and use, nurses may need to adjust to such innovations.

AI may seem like science fiction, but the average consumer now interacts daily with artificially intelligent personal assistants, smart speakers and other types of interfaces on a daily basis.

There is no doubt that healthcare will see the necessary adoption of related technologies, and younger nurses can be true leaders in their integrated use in nursing practice.

A New Wave of Leading Nurses

A new wave of leading nurses is coming to power.

With tolerance, cultural awareness and an open-minded view of the potentially expanded role of technology in nursing and healthcare, these next few decades will be exciting ones for both the nursing profession itself and the communities we care for.

These new leading nurses need our support - let’s embrace the new and move forward into an unknown and exciting future.



educator profile image
Keith Carlson View profile
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms---including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram - as well as at and Digital Doorway.