Nurse Retention: Top of Mind for Leaders
If you were to ask nursing leadership “What keeps you up at night” most, if not all, would respond with some topic related to nurse retention.
These days, it seems nurses are leaving jobs faster than organizations can hire them. And sure- sometimes the nurse is leaving their current position because of some type of life circumstance (e.g. relocating, having a child). Yet how often is it because of something within our control as nurse leaders?
Retention Strategies… With a Twist!
Sure, you can look up retention strategies just with a click of your keyboard. And yup, many of the articles will speak to similar things (e.g. on-boarding, mentoring, providing benefits, hiring from within).
Rather than repeating nurse retention strategies you already may be aware of- let’s shed some light on this topic… with a twist!Here Are 4 Great Examples of Nurse Retention... In Action!Click To Tweet
Mary is the nurse manager of the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU). While Mary does have some senior staff, she recently has had to hire half a dozen new nurses. Mary is concerned with not only how the new nurses will become acclimated with the unit; she also worries that some of the more experienced staff may become frustrated and look to leave.
During The Art of Nursing 2017 program, Mary learned about the science related to mentoring which supports its timing and purpose. Mary decided to put a mentorship program in place for after her new graduate nurses have completed their orientation and nurse residency.
Mary’s unit has been thriving since the implementation of the mentorship program. New nurses learn the ropes from a seasoned nurse with a wealth of resources. And there’s added benefit- new graduate nurse provide a fresh viewpoint to the more experienced nursing staff. Mary also quickly realized that mentors should not be preceptors or supervisors; they are better served as supportive colleagues who offer guidance to newer nurses, welcoming them into the unit’s culture.
Gracie is a nurse educator in the Department of Surgery. Lately, she has been overly concerned with her department’s nurse retention… or lack thereof. The Department of Surgery has experienced so much turnover that they have had to enlist the help of nurse travelers… something that they attempt to avoid.
Gracie decided to take pause and reflect on the things that helped her when she was starting out in her new role as educator. During Gracie’s self-reflection she realized that she took advantage of educational opportunities that came her way. Since many of the new graduate nurses in her department are fresh out of nursing school, Gracie noticed a trending gap.
The new hires are so focused on the job at hand- they are often unaware of the resources available to them! Gracie decided to take action and create a departmental initiative to highlight potential learning offers across the institution.
With the department focusing heavily on orientation and residency, nurses who had been working for two, three, or four years time had become stagnant in their learning and development. Gracie started up a monthly lunch and learn with topics for the newer, yet not-so-brand-new nurse to attend. This way those nurses who had been working in surgery for a bit of time could continue to learn and grow into more experienced nurses.
Gracie realized that if nurses were unaware of the ways that they could advance or improve, nurses would likely become disillusioned in their roles, and be less likely to stay.
Open Door Officer
James just became the Chief Nurse Officer of a community hospital in the northwest. Since James used to live and work in Florida, this new job is a total shift for him. On top of the changes he personally has to adapt to, James has to get to know an entirely new nursing staff.
Many of the nurses and nurse leaders at this organization do not know that much about him, being that James is taking this new job clear across the country. He realizes that he is going to have to get to know people- and quickly- if he wants to be successful in his new role.
Even though this is a new organization for James, this is not his first time working at the executive nurse level. James knows from past career experiences that engagement improves significantly when nurses feel free to speak their minds, share their ideas, address conflicts, and participate in the hospital’s progress. It worked for him before…
During the first month of his new job, James announced that his door was open. And literally! James communicated to all of the nurses that the third Friday of the month, between 10 am and 2 pm, nurses could drop in and talk to him about anything at all. Appointments could be scheduled ahead of time or nurses could just stop by and, if he was not already with another nurse, come in and speak to him.
Boy, did this go over well! James enjoys meeting new people on a monthly basis. And the staff has been enjoying the transparency they participate in with their new nurse leader.
Frannie understands the importance of work life balance. Sure, when it is time to work, Frannie is a no-nonsense kind of nurse. However, Frannie is also quite concerned with nurse retention at the college where she works.
Part of Frannie’s challenge is the fact that nursing faculty have such diverse schedules. It seems as though people are in the office at all different times. She worries that faculty won’t get to know each other and subsequently not feel part of a unified team.
Another challenge is the ever-growing workload. The nursing shortage hasn’t only affected hospital-based nurses… nursing faculty are hard to come by too! Because the college is short professors, each faculty member has had to add an entire course to their teaching load. Talk about stress!
Frannie has done some searching online, hoping to find answers to her organization’s issues. To her surprise, she has found some very creative and fun possibilities that she presented to her colleagues. And what’s more good news? They agreed with her concerns related to nurse retention and suggested she implement something right away!
In an effort to help coworkers get to know each other and enjoy a healthy dose of work life balance- Frannie suggests an innovative strategy. She sets up Power Hour Fridays for faculty to have some fun, while getting to know each other more.
For the past three months, Frannie and her colleagues have enjoyed a joint online and in-person hour every Friday with team building activities. The great part about doing the Power Hour online as well as in-person is that every faculty can attend. And the topics of team building, personal growth, and professional development have gone over super well as the team gets to know each other while having fun.
What did we miss? What other nurse retention strategies have worked for you at your organization? Share a comment below and thanks for reading!
About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.