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DiversityNursing Blog

Nurses and Retirement

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Dec 20, 2013 @ 02:59 PM

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Source: Fidelity Investments

Topics: financial, Fidelity Investments, savings, nurses, retirement

2013 Nurses Retirement Study: Executive Summary

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Dec 20, 2013 @ 02:25 PM


The 2013 Fidelity Investments Nurses Retirement Study is designed to gain

insights into nurses’ overall financial confidence and outlook towards retirement,

as well as:

  • Assess nurses’ sentiments towards their workplace retirement plan and other retirement savings options

  • Measure retirement savings behaviors among nurses

  • Measure nurses’ needs and attitudes in regard to retirement planning and guidance


Versta Research, an independent research firm, conducted the online study on behalf of Fidelity Investments® from August 5 – August 18, 2013. The survey population is a nationally representative sample of 536 practicing U.S. nurses with sampling stratified by age cohort as follows:

Age 18 to 34 (born 1979-1995) Generation Y           n=164

Age 35 to 48 (born 1965-1978) Generation X           n=157

Age 49 to 67 (born 1946-1964) Boomers                 n=185

Age 68+ (born 1945 or earlier)                              n= 30

Key Findings


Retirement savings are up; one-quarter (26%) of nurses with a workplace retirement savings plan have accumulated assets of more than $100,000, up from 18% in 2011.

  • Participation in workplace retirement plans remains steady at 85%. However, among those participating, saving rates are less than optimal especially among younger generations: Gen Y (5%), Gen X (6%) compared to 10% of Boomers.

  • Gen X nurses (55%) and Gen Y nurses (48%) are not confident they will have enough money to retire, compared to 35% of Boomers. Furthermore, 76% of Gen X nurses are concerned they will never be able to retire compared to 53% of Boomers.

  • Sixty-two percent of nurses report not saving enough for retirement. More than half (53%) feel retirement planning is overwhelming and 79% are looking for guidance.

  • Nurses are experiencing increased levels of stress as a result of industry consolidation from increased mergers and acquisitions. 

  • The good news –  one-quarter (26%) of all nurses with a workplace retirement savings plan have accumulated more than $100,000 in assets, up from 18% in 2011

  • The bad news – savings rates especially among younger generations are less than optimal. Fidelity recommends that employees save 10-15% of their salaries from both employer and employee savings. Results show Gen Y and Gen X are saving a median of 5% and 6%, respectively, compared to Boomers who are saving 10%

    nurses are saving resized 600

  • Fewer than one-half of nurses (44%) believe they will never fully retire, and at least two-thirds (63%) express concern about it. Instead, one-half (47%) see themselves as continuing to work, either because they will only partially retire (42%) or because they will never retire at all (5%)

  • Six out of ten (60%) will continue to work, in part, because they need the health insurance

Four out of five nurses participate in workplace retirement savings plans; half report it will be most important source of retirement income

  • Nine in ten nurses (92%) report having a workplace retirement savings plan available to them, whether it is a 401(k), 403(b) or a similar plan

    • More than eight out of ten (85%) participate in their workplace retirement savings plan

    • The study also revealed that 15% of nurses are not participating in workplace retirement plans. For those who have plans available to them, this represents a lost opportunity to save and qualify for the company match offered by many health care institutions

    • Four in ten (43%) say that their workplace retirement savings will be their primary source of income when they retire.  Fewer than half as many cite other sources as primary

    • Among those not participating in their workplace retirement savings plans, inertia and needing help figuring out how to begin are as important as not having enough money 

  • Top reasons nurses do not participate in a workplace retirement savings plan:

    • Don’t have the extra funds to save (cited by 32% of those not participating)

    • Already save in other ways (cited by 29%)

    • Have not gotten around to it (cited by 29%)

    • Don’t know where or how to begin (22%)

    • Overwhelmed by the amount needed (15%)

    • In addition to any workplace retirement benefits available to them, just more than half of nurses (55%) are saving for retirement through an IRA – a number that has not changed significantly since the first nurses’ survey in 2007

Many nurses worry about industry and government changes that are outside of their control, including consolidation and reduced benefits

  • Four in ten nurses (42%) have experienced a consolidation (merger or acquisition of their employer), up from 29% two years ago

  • One-half (50%) anticipate more hospital consolidation over the next five to ten years (up from 39%) two years ago

  • In regard to the impact on their jobs, nurses report negative outcomes caused by consolidation by a ratio of four to one. These include more stress, lower morale, fewer staff and cuts to benefits


  • What do nurses anticipate as adjustments to their profession specifically from health care changes?  Again, more than anything else, they see more work, more stress, fewer available nurses, and lower levels of care:

    • Patients receiving inadequate attention (39%)

    • Nurses having higher levels of stress (35%)

    • Nurses having more patient care responsibility (29%)

    • Nurses leaving the profession (26%)

  • When it comes to changes that will most affect them personally, nurses focus on stress, reduced benefits, and increased responsibilities:

    • Nurses having higher levels of stress (49%)

    • Employers offering reduced health benefits (39% - up from 33% in 2011)

    • Nurses having more patient care responsibility (26%)

Gen X nurses are the most concerned about their retirement security

  • Roughly one in five (19%) nurses expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income. Gen Y and Gen X nurses put less faith in the program, with only 8% and 16% respectively citing Social Security as primary source


All Nurses

Gen Y

Gen X


Will rely mostly on workplace savings





Will rely mostly on social security





  • The number of nurses who report having a defined benefit pension plan has dropped from 48% in 2011 to 39% in 2013. Among Boomer nurses, 44% have access to a DB plan. Similarly, the numbers who expect to rely primarily on a defined benefit pension plan for retirement income is down from 18% six years ago to 7% in 2013

  • Compared to others, Gen X nurses express the strongest concerns about their financial future in retirement and Boomers express the least 

  • More than half (55%) of Gen X and 48% of Gen Y are not confident they will have enough money to retire, compared to 55% of Boomers

    • Furthermore, 76% of Gen X nurses are concerned they will never be able to retire compared to 53% of Boomers


Gen Y

Gen X


Not confident about having enough to retire




Concerned about never being able to retire




Doing better emotionally compared to others in industry




Doing better financially compared to others in industry




Concerned about someday having to retire b/c of health




Have cut back on current lifestyle because of recession




Not saving enough for retirement




Nurses want more retirement planning help and increasingly turn to individual help from workplace providers

  • 62% of nurses acknowledge they are not saving enough for retirement. A majority of nurses need more help planning financially for retirement, especially Gen Y and Gen X nurses


All Nurses

Gen Y

Gen X


Have taken steps to secure retirement, but could use more help





Feel retirement planning is overwhelming and wish for more help









*Significantly lower than other cohorts

  • Needing help does not always lead to action.  Among those who say they are not saving enough, just one in four (27%) will seek retirement planning and guidance over the next 12 months to help them save more

  • When it comes to tools and resources that nurses use to learn about and manage their workplace retirement plans, one-third (34%) say they rely on educational resources from their employers

  • Among the employer resources that nurses find most helpful are individual in-person meetings and mailed materials

    • Individual consultations, either in-person or by phone, are increasingly important:

Employer resources

that nurses find most helpful



In-person one-on-one meetings



Mailed materials



Speaking with a provider phone rep



In-person seminars



E-mailed materials






* Significant increase

  • Beyond one-on-one employer resources, nurses increasingly look to general online resources and family for help:

    • Online tools (relied on by 40%, up from 31% in 2011) 

    • Family and friends (relied on by 41%, up from 31% in 2011) 

    • Online educational sites (relied on by 32%, up from 23% in 2011)

    • Financial publications (relied on by 16%)

  • In addition, more nurses are turning to professional guidance, with over half (54%, up from 42% in 2011) saying they receive help from financial professionals, either paid (38%, up from 30% in 2011) or unpaid (16%, up from 13% in 2011)

    nursefinancial resized 600 

Respondent Profile

Most of the nurses (62%) were employed by not-for-profit organizations (versus 38% employed by for-profit organizations).  Four out of five (80%) were full-time employed (versus 20% part-time employed), and most (90%) were direct employed (versus 10% contract employed).  The average (median) tenure with employers was 7 years.  Additional demographics include:  

  • 94% women, 6% men

  • Average age 47

  • 66% married or living with a partner


The results of 2013 Fidelity Investments Nurses Retirement Study may not be representative of all nurses meeting the same criteria as those surveyed for this study.


Fidelity Investments and Fidelity are registered service marks of FMR LLC.


Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC

900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917



© 2013 FMR LLC. All rights reserved.

Topics: Fidelity Investments, Nurse Retirement Study

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