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Kelly McCormick
May 11, 2022

Many nurses are planning to leave the medical field at the end of 2022. As a result, healthcare providers must consider changes to retain current staff and attract new nurses.

34-percent of nurse respondents to an April survey from staffing firm Incredible Health noted that it was very likely they would leave their roles by the end of 2022. According to Fierce Healthcare, nurses are not the only ones leaving the field, even unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) are departing hospital positions. With many older nurses nearing retirement age, how to providers work to retain their current nursing staff while working to attract new talent, and how do we avoid a nursing shortage?

Understand the problems

While there are several reasons behind the exodus of nursing staff, burnout is cited as the most common reason. High-stress environments, made worse by labor models rendered ineffective due to high COVID-19 patient volume, have many nurses reconsidering their careers. Pay and benefits was also listed by 27-percent of respondents as a major reason they considered leaving the profession.

Fierce Healthcare also outlined how current labor models also led to reductions in efficency and quality patient care. The article outlines how the typical “primary RN model,” in which one RN cares for multiple patients with the help of assistive personnel, led to increased workloads and lower care quality. With the large influx of patients due to COVID-19, nurses found themselves overwhelmed using the primary model. They were left feeling that they did not have enough resources to care for each patient to their best extent.

Staff Retention and Acquisition

Understanding issues facing nurses will allow for a more holistic solution to staff retention and acquisition efforts. This may go some way to halt the impending nursing shortage. Below are several ways to specifically address commonly cited issues leading nurses to exit the medical field.

Pay & Benefits

As experienced nurses move out of the field or retire, the wages associated with remaining experienced candidates will rise. A strong benefits package coupled with a proper pay rate will show respect for the position. It may also entice nurses looking for a new position into joining your practice or center. You may also choose to offer tuition reimbursement and loan repayment programs to candidates.

Allow nurses to voice their opinions

To assist in identifying and responding to nurse concerns, center, or practice leadership, along with nurse leadership, should maintain a constant and open line of communication. Allowing your nurses to feel heard creates a sense of community and transparency throughout your organization. This can help reduce the effects of burnout and improve mental health.

Be open to flexible scheduling

Flexible scheduling options, such as the potential to work in multiple locations, and varying times of day can offer a small change of scenery for nursing staff. This reduces the repetitiveness of the job and the likelihood of burnout.

Emphasize workplace safety

According to Incredible Health’s survey, two-thirds (65-percent) of participating nurses said they had been assaulted by a patient or a patient’s family member within the past year. 32-percent also admitted to having experienced racism from patients or a patient’s family member. Creating and enforcing guidelines directed to protect all staff should be a high priority for center or practice. Leadership and showing that rules are in place protecting staff can be a selling point in nurse recruitment.

Showcase work-life balance

The demands of working in the medical field take a substantial toll on the mental health of staff, especially nurses. Therapy and other mental health benefits can play a major role in recruiting. Adding programs can also help retain current staff.

 What is the future?

Fierce Healthcare’s survey reported that 92-percent of participating healthcare leaders believed the nursing shortage would continue to increase over the next 18 months. The key to continued success despite the shortage is making your practice or center an appealing place to work for qualified candidates. Proper pay and benefits, flexible scheduling, open communication, and a safe work environment provide incentives to remain with your location. They may also encourage others to  join your team.


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