1. Taylor, Nicole T.

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A fresh look at attracting and keeping quality nurses.


Nursing Management 's first annual Recruitment and Retention Conference, hosted in Orlando, Fla. from May 2 to 4, was a sun-drenched success. Respected researcher Linda Aiken, RN, PhD, FAAN, FRCN, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., opened the event on Friday with a keynote address, "Workplace Innovation: Key to Nurse Retention and Clinical Excellence." "You can spend a lot of money on staffing, but you won't get what you're paying for if the nursing environment is negative," said Dr. Aiken. Her motivating speech set the tone for the rest of the conference - 3 days of interesting and informative programs.


Conference Chairperson Dennis Sherrod, RN, EdD, said the conference was timely. "In a time of critical national nursing shortage, Nursing Management 's Recruitment & Retention Conference provided ideas for attracting and keeping qualified nursing personnel," he said. "For years, I searched for seminars and conferences on the topic only to find a few here and there. A number of the nurse leaders attending the conference applauded the topic and said the weekend conference allowed them to return with applicable ideas and enthusiasm."


Those of you who joined us started Saturday morning with a continental breakfast while perusing the exhibitor stands. Booths were staffed by representatives from Advanced Nursing, Bernard Hodes Group, Sigma Theta Tau International, and, to name a few. The morning's programs explored themes from "Surviving the Shortage: Recruitment and Retention Strategies for the 21st Century," to "The Attractiveness of Magnets." The afternoon sessions addressed pressing topics such as "Diversity Management" and "The Maverick Leader: Doing What it Takes to Recruit and Retain."


On Sunday morning, Sharon Cox, RN, MSN, CNAA, Principal Consultant, Cox & Associates, Brentwood, Tenn., taught the audience how to create a culture for retention. "Key intrinsic motivators are meaningful work, choice, growth, and progress," she said, her positive attitude permeating the audience.


"Attitude is Everything," the closing session of the conference, got the audience members on their feet and fostered participation. Facilitator Louis Benson, PhD, President, The Benson Group, Delray Beach, Fla., advised attendees to view staff issues differently. "Think opportunity, not problem," he said.


"Nursing leaders demonstrate that attitude is everything," said Benson. "Recruitment and retention of staff is more than technique, it requires enthusiasm about nursing and caring for others. Attendees echoed the sentiment that nurses want to work where they can make a positive difference and their contributions are appreciated. They proved that nurses impact people's lives in a positive way-not just patients, but recruits or fellow staff members, too."


The conference was an opportunity for nurse leaders to fine-tune their recruitment and retention strategies while enjoying the comforts of the Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld. Attendee feedback was more than positive, and a few nurse leaders took the time to discuss their experiences:


"I enjoyed the conference in Orlando. The classes I attended were all beneficial to my position. I especially enjoyed the talk given by Linda Aiken. Her research was up to date and useful. It was the first conference I attended with other disciplines discussing the same issues," says Susan McCuistion, RN, BSN, a director at East Pasco Medical Center, Zephyrhills, Fla.


Another attendee shared her reaction: "As the chairperson of our institution's Recruitment and Retention Committee, I decided to attend the conference to network, learn new ideas, and share some of the successes we've had in Milwaukee.


"Dennis Sherrod was a great speaker and offered a few ideas we hadn't considered. Sharon Cox is rejuvenating- this is the third time that I've had the fortune of listening to her speak.


"The philosophy behind the conference was great. By attending, I realized how very fortunate we are at my facility to enjoy an average vacancy rate of less than 3%," says Lauri Diske, RN, Director of the Birth Center at Froedfert Hospital, Milwaukee, Wisc.


One attendee appreciated the conference's use of humor. "All of us are aware that humor is an essential element in the work place," says Ann Marie Frazier, RN, MSN, CNA. "G. Rumay Alexander walked us through cultural diversity utilizing music. Needless to say, we did have fun, we saw the humor, sang a few songs, and were able to walk away with a better understanding of the diversity on our units.


"I attended this conference by myself, not knowing any other attendees. By the end of the first day, I was in a group, including consultants, recruiters, and managers from Arizonia, Illinois, Louisiana, and New Jersey. We all had a common goal: retention of our staff and creating a community at our institution."


Join us next year at the New Orleans Marriott, April 30 to May 2, during Jazz Festival, as we once again explore the best recruitment and retention strategies. Look for 2004 conference details in future issues of Nursing Management.