Q. What do nurse retention and recruitment strategies have in common with patient outcomes?
A. All prosper in an environment that supports nurses.
Surveys tell us that nurses don't mind working hard, so long as they find their work satisfying. A supportive workplace can mean the difference between fulfillment and wanting to move on to another position-or even another career. Satisfied nurses stay put (retention), speak well of their profession (good for recruitment), and perform best when backed by adequate support (great for patient outcomes and satisfaction).
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Unlike sign-on bonuses to attract nurses, workplace initiatives to support those already on the payroll are relatively inexpensive. Yet by enhancing job satisfaction, they hold the key to retention. Take stock of how your facility measures up in these areas:
Respect. Managers listen to and address your concerns. They confront negative and abusive behaviors that harm individuals or groups. Their policy of zero tolerance for abuse shows respect and creates a sense of caring. Steeped in this respect, you can grow professionally and work to your full potential.
Education. Your facility values you and your knowledge. Besides tuition reimbursement, it offers you financial assistance to attend conferences, participate in journal clubs, and pursue continuing education activities and certification. The payoff is research-based practice, which you use to improve patient care and help develop other nurses.
Shared governance. You're encouraged to join hospital committees and policy-making groups. Being involved in decision making boosts your confidence and sense of fulfillment. In return, your facility gets creative problem-solving strategies, such as ways to address staffing issues.
Time. You get time to attend committee meetings and educational activities, such as journal clubs. You either participate during your shift or the facility pays you overtime for the extra hours. In the long term, the investment means big gains for your employer.
Tools. What nurse doesn't want to cut back on paperwork? Backed by computers, documentation systems that eliminate redundancies, personal digital assistants, and software that lets you access information right from your pocket, you can prevent errors and spend more precious time with patients.
Support staff. Having enough people to perform dietary, housekeeping, and equipment support services lets you do more of the work you love.
Tell your employer what you need to feel satisfied in your work. When you have the time, respect, funding, and support to meet your needs, you'll serve patients well and tend to stay put. The equation is simple. The investment isn't costly. It's an elementary solution that's way overdue.
Cheryl L. Mee