Many Nurses Plugging OT into Retirement Nest Egg

May 7, 2007 ( - The nation's nurses may be getting called upon to work extra hours due to a nursing shortage, but some are putting the extra salary dollars to a constructive purpose - their retirement nest egg, a new study found.

A Fidelity Investments news release said its nursing survey found that more than half (54%) said they are using the extra income to pay down debt and 22% said they are allocating the money to retirement savings.

Some 90% of nurses reported participating in their employer-sponsored workplace savings plan, and despite longer working hours, many (44%) are making the time to actively manage their plan’s investments on an annual basis or more, according to the survey.

Nurses reported higher savings levels in 401(k) and 403(b) plans than their peers across the tax-exempt and corporate sectors. On average, nurses have $64,000 compared to average balances of $48,000 among all workers in tax-exempt sector plans and $62,500 among all workers in corporate sector plans, according to Fidelity.

The combination of higher earnings and higher deferral rates into workplace savings plans (9% deferral rate for nurses vs. 6.9% for most Americans) is likely driving the higher balances, according to the news release.

Retiree Health Care

Almost all nurses surveyed (90%) say they are concerned about the affordability of medical costs in retirement.

Half of nurses (53%) said they plan to work either part-time or full-time in their retirement years. Almost all of these nurses (89%) report they want to work to stay busy and two-thirds (65%) love their job too much to leave it.

Still many will continue to work because they will need the employer-sponsored health insurance (63%) and the income to cover basic living expenses during their retirement years (65%). Three-quarters (78%) of nurses are concerned about their retiree health coverage being reduced or eliminated and more than two in three (69%) worry they may have to retire early due to health issues.

Despite the prevalence of employer-sponsored retirement plans, the survey found that 10% of nurses with access to plans still do not participate. Fidelity found these nurses, together with those who do not have a workplace savings plan, tend to be younger and less experienced and most admit they are not saving enough for retirement.

An online survey of a national sample of 300 full-time and part-time practicing nurses was conducted by Northstar Research Partners, an independent research firm, during the week of April 16, 2007.