Authors

  1. Hurst, Sue MSN, RN
  2. Gibson, Denise MSN, RN, OCN

Article Content

I was speaking with one of our seasoned (experienced) nurses while rounding in the unit the other day, and she was lamenting the absence of quality financial support for nurses at retirement. The conversation went on to cover how many years she had been in nursing, the unique contribution she offered for quality care, and how she felt unappreciated and devalued by leadership. She wanted to know what were our leaders in nursing planning to be able to retain the nurses who had always been there, stayed at an organization, and gave, year after year, to the nursing profession. Not wanting to appear uncaring or insensitive, I instinctively understood her thoughts, yet[horizontal ellipsis]I also wondered. What was her unique contribution? Would she be able to quantify and demonstrate her accomplishments with data after her many years in nursing? Would she be able to produce the career evidence (portfolio) of continual growth and development through continuing education and/or certification? Without the tangible evidence, how could the leaders substantiate the impact of her tenure in nursing and her individual impact on patient care?

 

Walking to the other side of the unit, I became entrenched in a conversation with a 26-year-old nurse who had received a goodly sum of money to take a position in this state and was taking advantage of the tuition reimbursement for school and the professional development funds available. She was hoping to pad her professional portfolio for her upcoming 1-year evaluation and to get certified for additional wages while she lives out her 3-year obligation for employment. It is well known to those she works with that her goal is to become a travel nurse after her 3-year commitment.

 

I was struck by the paradox of these 2 nurses[horizontal ellipsis]one was exceedingly valuable and there is little evidence in her career to prove it, whereas the other is a "pretty on paperwork" nurse who lacks the dimensional experience and depth that come with years of nursing care. And the resources are being given to the pretty-on-paperwork nurse when a small amount of resources to the other type of nurse could prove to be exponentially valuable to the profession. What would happen if we dedicated the resources to those who are here and will stay? Could they not learn to pad the portfolio? Would this be a competition to the newer nurse?

 

I did not want to believe that, perhaps, we (nurses) have been shortsighted in our efforts toward recruitment. This situation made me think. What are the things we can do to address the needs of both of these groups of nurses as their needs are divergent and may be perceived as being in opposition to each other? Why are such large numbers of resources directed to those nurses who have a goal to leave an organization, travel, or leave the profession? Why are we so stuck?

 

We are stuck on how we define and evaluate retention, which does not necessarily meet the needs of the nurse; it meets the needs of the organization. When we embrace a strict and unyielding definition of staying in 1 clinical area or 1 service line, we are giving ourselves needless headaches. How about staying within an organization for a period of time? How do we keep people in nursing overall to strengthen our profession and ensure that folks have qualified nurses to care for them? What can we do for all nurses that will make the retirement and benefits more attractive to both men and women, nurses with families, young nurses, nurses who are grandmothers, single nurses, and nurses who are the sole breadwinner? If we continue to do something which isn't working over and over again, can we therefore say that we have not learned as a profession? I certainly hope that is not the case.

 

Sue Hurst, MSN, RN

 

ICU Clinical Nurse Specialist

 

Banner Good Samaritan

 

Medical Center

 

1111 East McDowell Avenue

 

Phoenix, Arizona 85006

 

Sue.hurst@bannerhealth.com

 

Miss Hurst is a reviewer of manuscripts for Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing.

 

Denise Gibson, MSN, RN, OCN

 

Oncology Clinical

 

Nurse Specialist

 

Banner Good Samaritan

 

Medical Center

 

1111 East McDowell Avenue

 

Phoenix, Arizona 85006

 

Denise.gibson@bannerhealth.com