Nurse Retention Strategies

Many nurses have a clear vision of the type of work environment they want and how they want to practice care. Experienced nurses have likely worked in a number of facilities, in a variety of roles and over time have seen their vision come to fruition in bits and pieces. True job satisfaction though comes only when the complete vision is realized and success stories show that most nurses share the same vision of what the ultimate work environment should be. Facilities that listen and react to the needs of nurses regarding their needs for a satisfying work place are the ones with the best retention rates.

Staffing Levels
One of the top reasons that nurses leave positions in bedside care is mental and physical exhaustion. Either there are not enough nurses to provide the level of care that makes nurses feel confident about their work or the balance of experienced and inexperienced nurses is not where it should be and nurses are put in uncomfortable positions where they aren’t sure how to handle a specific health concern of a patient. Facilities that incorporate having fully staffed shifts as part of their core beliefs results in a confident staff that is feels good about coming into work and actually performing their jobs well rather than a shift of dealing with crisis after crisis. When staffing levels are optimal, nurses have a more positive outlook and work together as a team to share knowledge and feel secure.

Support from Management
Nurses take great pride in their work and the biggest frustration comes when they are put in a position where they are unable to give their patients the level of care they feel they deserve and that they want to provide. They feel that they are not getting the support they need from management and that patient outcomes suffer. Over time, this can cause enough stress on the nurse to make them seek employment elsewhere where they feel management puts quality care as a priority over staffing budgets.

New nurse graduates are now able to conduct much more research on facilities before they even apply. With information available online, they can find out which facilities have the best nurse-to-patient ratios, which ones have won quality care awards and who includes ongoing education as an employment requirement. Most of the facilities that portray these high standards for care typically have waiting lists for employment which shows that a change in how to approach patient care can make all the difference in the quality of staff that they attract.

Costs for Nurse Retention
Studies have also shown that by improving nurse-to-patient ratios, operating costs actually decrease and money spent to make a change in philosophy about this topic is recouped. Facilities see the costs for overtime pay and agency help decreases well beyond the cost of having more regular staff on the floor during all shifts. In making a change to improve nurse-to-patient ratios and developing a culture of open communication between management and nursing staff, retention increases. This reduces turnover costs that can be quite significant when you look at recruiting and training expenses.

When nurses are living their vision of the optimal work environment, they report that what they enjoy most about their jobs is patient interaction and that they feel appreciated by their co-workers and management.

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