Nursing Retention in Healthcare

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Nurses play an integral part in the provision of health care the United States. In America, there is a shortage of nurses across the country that is estimated to increase within the next few years. The nursing shortage is only compounded by the increasing number of Baby Boomers and the numerous amount of nurses expected to retire in the coming years. With that being said, health systems are struggling to retain a satisfactory number of nurses per year. The turnover rate regarding nurses is higher in healthcare than any other field. In the coming years, HR managers will be tasked with dealing with the recruitment and retention of talented nurses who by and large greatly affect health system finances.

In 2014, nursing turnover rates reached 17.2% according to Nursing Solutions (2015), which was a 4% increase from 2010. Hospital RN vacancies increased to 20.6% in 2014 and are expected to rise significantly with the retirement of many experienced nurses. Filling vacancies for hospitals now takes between 53 to 110 days for recruiters (Nursing Solutions, 2015).

Studies show that the loss of one nurse costs anywhere between $22,000 to $64,000 (Jones & Gates, 2007).

Why should hospitals be concerned with nursing retention? Studies show that the loss of one nurse costs anywhere between $22,000 to $64,000 (Jones & Gates, 2007). When one considers the average turnover percentage of nurses, hospitals can suffer millions of dollars lost to recruiting replacements, advertising vacancies, loss of experience, training, and most of all, patient care.

High turnover rates have been attributed to a number of things within the healthcare field. The top complaints for job dissatisfaction include burnout and high nurse to patient ratios, high workloads, increased paperwork, lack of acknowledgement and appreciation, and lack of decision-making opportunities. These issues play a large role in the culture of an organization and have adverse effects on the patient care and quality of care. If career dissatisfaction continues, it could very well affect the outlook of potential nurses in the future which could further exacerbate the nursing shortage.

The top complaints for job dissatisfaction include burnout and high nurse to patient ratios, high workloads, increased paperwork, lack of acknowledgement and appreciation, and lack of decision-making opportunities.

Human resources can employ several tactics to deter nurses from leaving and assess the discrepancies that nurses in their specific hospital experience. Decreasing the amount of turnover in turn decreases the amount of money spent on recruitment, increases the organization’s productivity, increases patient safety and health outcomes, and also improves the work environment and satisfaction of all workers.

Here are some of the possible strategies recommended to reduce nursing turnover:

  1. New Hire Check-ins – Identifying concerning issues early on can decrease the likelihood of new nurses leaving. The percentage of first-year nurses that changed jobs peaked at 13% (Nursing Solutions, 2015).
  2. Employee Satisfaction Surveys and Assessments – Directly engaging employees about their satisfaction with their job will allow HR to improve the working environment and work to solve issues that plague the nursing staff. Interviewing current employees also allows employers to develop compensation packages that deter employee departure.
  3. Exit Interviews – Every HR department should conduct exit interviews to assess why the employee departed organization. This allows the HR department to gather data on issues that cause nurses to leave.
  4. Job Analysis – HR departments should conduct a periodic job analysis of nursing positions to assess the positives and negatives of the job. Is the job satisfying, does the job allow the employee to exercise all their skills, and do the activities of the job fit the compensation package?

Developing an efficient retention plan for nursing positions could increase the financial outcomes and quality of care in hospitals. Conducting interviews for currently employed nurses and employee satisfaction surveys can allow HR departments the resources and data to better retain nurses. Nurse dissatisfaction has shown to produce more clinical mistakes and adverse patient outcomes. High burnout rates and patient overloading have contributed to increasing turnover rates within the nursing field. The effects that nurse vacancies and shortages have on patient outcomes and safety also affect health expenditures which are also on the rise. HR can effectively play a role in retaining nurses which can in turn allow hospitals to invest financial resources in other areas to increase satisfaction for customers, nurses, and the healthcare organization overall.

Resources:

Jones, C., Gates, M., (September 30, 2007)  “The Costs and Benefits of Nurse Turnover: A Business Case for Nurse Retention” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 12 No. 3.

Beaulieu-Volk, D. (2014, October 27). Nurse retention strategies: Keys to empowerment, ownership and support. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/nurse-retention-strategies-keys-to-empowerment-ownership-and-support

Writer, L. S. (2016, January 22). Nursing Shortage Statistics. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from http://strategicprogramsinc.com/nursing-shortage-statistics/

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