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3 Ways Hospitals Can Improve Nurse Retention

3 Ways Hospitals Can Improve Nurse Retention

By Kathy Marshall, Contributor

Nursing is one of the most rewarding yet most challenging professions. With the increasing pressures of being understaffed, increasing number of patients, and always changing metrics, nurses’ retention is a serious issue across the nation.

Hospitals have spent billions on improving patient outcomes but have struggled with one of the most influential patient care areas: nurses. 

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Understanding and then Improving Nurse Retention Rates

What is Nurse Retention? Understanding the Problem

In simplest terms: nurse retention focuses on preventing nurse turnover and keeping nurses in an organization's employment. Here are five ways to improve nurse retention and implement easy retention strategies. 

Provide Nurse Leadership Opportunities

When you ask what nurse retention is, you may not think of how leadership plays a role in it. Providing tuition reimbursement and stipends will help nurses further their education and open up new career options in leadership roles. 

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When hospital leaders offer leadership programs, and then have nurses move through them, that visibility promotes loyalty and encourages growth.  

Acknowledge Loyalty and Investment

As an employee who spends 12-hour shifts or longer at work, a nurse becomes invested in a facility. One of the best nurse retention strategies is to validate nurse’s loyalty by acknowledging years of experience and any professional development they pursue.

In order to encourage new or potential employees to stay with your facility, you must provide real job incentives. Extended vacation time for more years of experience, consistently meeting unit goals, completing a fellowship program or being a speaker at a conference are all ways to reward nurses in different ways for their investment in themselves and their units.   

Make a Culture Shift 

A Health Affairs study found that nurses who work shifts longer than 12 hours are 1.45 times more likely to leave their jobs within a year. Karlene Kerfoot, PhD, RN, in Hospitals & Health Networks magazine was quoted as saying hospitals need to make a “fundamental culture change from overtime being the ‘rule’ to overtime being the exception.” She also suggested, “If hospitals implement measures to reduce shift and workweek length, and set guidelines for what is an acceptable amount of overtime, nurses will not feel obligated to tack on extra hours.”

Let Nurses Do Their Job

With the increased focus on documentation and implementation of other patient caregivers, many nurses are expected to care for patients that they physically spend very little interaction with. By improving documentation issues, nurses can spend more time doing what they love: providing important care for their patients.

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