1. Sherrod, Brad RN, MSN

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The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that by 2020 there will be 1.8 million licensed nurses in the workforce with a projected need of 2.8 million.1 In 2004, an HRSA study found that the average age of nurses was 46.8 years, with 41% over age 50-up from 25% over age 50 in 1980. The study also found that only 8% of nurses were under age 30, down from 25% in 1980. As the nursing shortage continues to grow, healthcare organizations must learn what newer generations are looking for and create innovative ways to avoid future staff shortages by attaining high recruitment and retention levels.


The astute recruit

Nurse recruiters have to start specifically targeting members of generation X (born between 1965 and 1980, ages 27 to 42) and generation Y (born between 1981 and 2000, ages 7 to 26).2 The technology boom has led to most of generation X and practically all of generation Y growing up with access to computers and the Internet. Although healthcare organizations have started using Internet job recruiting sites, it may not be enough. Some job boards restrict the amount of information searchers can access until becoming a member of the site, which means it may be difficult for potential employees to gain a true picture of your facility. And most hospital Web sites only offer generic information about the facility, its services, and its culture. Providing potential employees with an inside view of your organization gives your HR department a strong marketing tool for recruiting.


Partnered with the marketing department, your HR department must look toward creative ways to effectively market vacant nursing positions at your facility to qualified candidates. One possible direction is jumping on board the Internet video craze by utilizing Web sites such as and Use patient accounts of the care they received to highlight your facility's main service lines. If you're not in the position to create something new, use a preexisting television commercial to advertise your facility on the Web. Because generations X and Y are constantly reviewing information on the Internet, the marketing of mainstream products has moved toward this medium with success.


The name of the game

After your facility is able to recruit viable candidates, it's crucial to do your best to retain them. Strategic methods and practices need to be in place to keep new hires engaged and help them with enculturation. Key strategies for retaining nurses include:


[white diamond suit] supporting new hires from day one with coaching and mentoring


[white diamond suit] helping them develop relationships within their departments


[white diamond suit] implementing training for managers on how to retain employees


[white diamond suit] developing healthy living programs


[white diamond suit] building supportive work environments


[white diamond suit] encouraging a culture that prizes loyalty and inclusive decision making


[white diamond suit] consistently meeting for feedback


[white diamond suit] recognizing star performers


[white diamond suit] helping with career advancement.



Don't come up short

As the nursing shortage increases, the pool of qualified candidates will become increasingly low. Healthcare organizations must be creative in their efforts to attract newer generations of candidates and then have strategies in place to retain those nurses for years to come.




1. Health Resources and Services Administration. Nursing. Available at: Accessed October 22, 2007. [Context Link]


2. Siela D. Managing the multigenerational nursing staff. American Nurse Today. 2006;1(3):47-49. [Context Link]