Nursing Notes

October 15, 2009

Study: Hospitals must retain experienced nurses as nursing shortage looms

Here is an article from Healthcare Finance News that addresses one part of the ongoing struggle to solve the nursing shortage–the retention of the experienced nurse.  After reading this article, I felt vindicated because I have always thought that retention would go a long way to helping hospitals and clinics resolve their staffing problems.

The flip side is that retention is not an “easy fix” and can prove just as costly as a new hire.  Nurses understand that they are in demand, yes they do.  They also understand that their profession deals daily with life and death issues and their skills are necessary.  What they have been saying over and over is not that they don’t want to do bedside nursing or that they don’t want to do whatever is required to give their patient’s a successful outcome but rather that they cannot do the job they want to do based on time constraints, unbearable expectations of administration, and short staffing.

Something has to give in this situation and I hope it is not safe, responsible care.


July 29, 2009
Richard Pizzi, Editor

WASHINGTON – Hospitals, medical centers and other healthcare organizations must implement strategies that help to keep more veteran nurses at patient bedsides, according to a new study.

The study, “Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses,” finds that a number of healthcare organizations lowered turnover rates among experienced nurses by making a concerted effort to improve nurse morale and productivity.

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and coordinated by The Lewin Group, the study reveals that successful strategies included innovative approaches to staffing; employee health and wellness programs; and training and development opportunities for veteran nurses.

Ergonomic initiatives, such as teams and equipment to help nurses lift patients and other heavy items, did not contribute to an overall drop in turnover among experienced nurses; however, they did improve morale and cut expenses associated with work-related injuries, the study found.

“We know that there is no quick fix to the crisis in healthcare,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing. “But the approaches explored in our ‘Wisdom at Work’ initiative are pieces of a larger puzzle that will help healthcare organizations keep experienced nurses from walking out the door – and taking their expertise with them – just when we need them most.

“The new study includes seven in-depth case studies examining strategies used by healthcare and non-healthcare institutions that have received recognition for their success in retaining experienced workers, as well as findings from 13 separate research projects conducted from January 2007 to December 2008 to explore the impact of interventions aimed at retaining experienced nurses in hospitals.

It is a follow-up to the white paper, “Wisdom at Work: The Importance of the Older and Experienced Nurses in the Workplace,” commissioned by RWJF in 2006.The new “Wisdom at Work” report finds that companies that have successfully retained older workers cite the following reasons for their success: sustained commitments by corporate leadership; corporate cultures that value aging; and compensation packages that cater to older workers, offering benefits such as phased retirement options and flexible work arrangements.

“The evaluations demonstrate that there are ways to retain experienced nurses that ultimately are cost-effective,” Hassmiller said. “With our nation’s population aging and healthcare needs growing, we need to encourage more veteran nurses to stay in their jobs so we can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom they have gained over the years.

“The average direct cost to replace a full-time registered nurse at the 13 hospitals in the study totaled $36,567, a sum reflecting expenses associated with termination payouts, filling temporary vacancies, additional overtime costs, and hiring and training new staff. The loss of experienced nurses is especially costly.

Study: Hospitals must retain experienced nurses as nursing shortage looms | Healthcare Finance News

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