3 ways hospital leaders can improve nurse retention

As a wave of retiring nurses creates increased demand and potential shortages, hospital leaders must keep several strategies in mind to retain their nursing staff, according to Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

Replacing just one nurse costs a hospital about $82,000, writes Karlene Kerfoot, R.N., chief clinical integration officer at API Healthcare in Hartford, Wisconsin. Turnover for the profession averages 14 percent according to 2011 data, Kerfoot writes, and while many providers are already working to improve retention and satisfaction, hospital leaders must step up their efforts, with strategies including:

Shared governance programs: Nurses frequently complain about their lack of autonomy, according to Kerfoot, and shared governance could be the answer. She suggests leaders approve self-staffing policies that allow nurses to select shifts based on their availability.

Reduced overtime: Research has found working shifts that are longer than 12 hours and more than 40 hours a week increases nurse job dissatisfaction and turnover, Kerfoot writes. A 2014 position paper from the American Nurses Association endorsed setting 12-hour ceilings for shifts and a 40-hour maximum work week to reduce fatigue among nursing staff, as well as giving nurses the option of turning down work assignments to avoid fatigue, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Quality-of-life initiatives: Hospital leaders can improve nurse morale by considering their off-the-clock obligations to family and themselves, Kerfoot writes. She suggests they offer flexible shift lengths and staggered start times to allow nurses to plan around their other responsibilities.  

To learn more:
- read the H&HN Daily article