Trend: Hospitals lure nurses with better working conditions

In the past, hospitals fought pending nursing shortages by waging a bidding war for nursing staffers. However, this wasn't accomplishing their long-term goals, as turnover remained high. They found that while such strategies attracted nurses, the same nurses would often quit promptly when the hospital across town bid higher. Such losses were disastrous over time, given that it costs $50,000 to $100,000 to replace a nurse given overtime payments to cover shifts, temp staffer pay, recruiting and training costs.

These days, however, many hospitals have shifted strategies, hoping to attract and retain nurses by providing better working conditions than their peers. They're taking a wide variety of steps to do this, including using technology to cut paperwork, offering flexible hours, reducing caseloads and paying for training.

Equally important, progressive hospitals are giving the nurses more input and authority. For example, they're asking nurses what type of equipment is needed and whether patient-nurse ratios are adequate. Other facilities, such as Georgetown University Hospital, are encouraging nurses to conduct new research project, the results of which often become new care plans for the institutions.

Research says that "magnet" hospitals, which offer more training programs and ability for nurses to have more say in patient care, are finding that their flexibility and investment in nurse satisfaction is paying off. For example, the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania found that nurse satisfaction is significantly higher in magnet hospitals, and just as tellingly, that patients have significantly lower mortality and fewer complications in these facilities.

To find out more about these trend:
- read this Washington Post piece

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