The past few years have been particularly difficult for the nursing profession as it is experiencing a critical shortage of nurses. Unfortunately, this trend will continue through 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A lack of nurse educators resulted in 80,000 prospective nursing students being rejected from colleges last year. Community colleges also have limited spots. Of course, the great resignation is seeing nurses leave the profession in large numbers to either retire or choose another career altogether. The impact of COVID is changing all workplaces and nursing is particularly vulnerable.
What can nursing administrators do to hold on to their nursing staff during these difficult times? Here are suggestions.
Listen to the Worries of Your Team
Nurses want to feel valued, especially during the current pandemic and listening to their concerns is the first step in nursing retention. Due to COVID, many facilities pay travel nurses substantial sign-on bonuses, higher pay, and schedule flexibility. These perks are understandably angering dedicated staff nurses. They have questions and concerns, so make yourself available to hear these concerns.
Focus on Workplace Culture to Increase Retention
Taking your nurses for granted creates a negative company culture that kills morale and causes nurses to feel as though they are easily replaceable. Nurses want to feel supported and appreciated, not dispensable. Start by taking care of your workers. Encourage your team to build a family with their colleagues. A positive culture and work environment support:
- Work/life balance
- Mental health
Prioritize Nurse Retention
Nurse retention must be a priority for morale and patient safety. You might consider decreasing shift length, providing bonuses, reducing dependence on travel nurse programs by increasing the internal nurse float pool and investing in clinical leaders.
Nurses, like most everyone else, have numerous responsibilities. They might be caring for aging parents or small children. Some nurses may wish to work part-time. Regardless of the reason, nurses need flexibility. Your institution will become a desired employer for many experienced and highly skilled nurses by offering shift flexibility.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Encourage nurses to pursue further education and certifications. If possible, offer financial assistance to help nurses expand their careers. Offer formal mentorship programs and encourage nurses to participate in special projects. Be intentional about engaging nurses in decisions that determine hospital policies and procedures. Leadership can hear directly from people who work on the floor with patients and see the results of new policies.
Finding ways to address the lingering impact of COVID and retain nurses is a challenge. Poll your employees frequently and ask for ideas and feedback. Ask nurses to rate their shifts and allow them to be a part of the decisions. Above all, listen to their concerns and provide support.
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