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Nurse Educators Plot Retention Strategies

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, July 19, 2011

Until the economy imploded a few years ago, every other article on the profession of nursing revolved around the nurse shortage. It was so omnipresent that we became numb to it. Then the economy went south, nurses couldn’t afford to retire or needed to pick up extra shifts to make ends meet, and suddenly it was “what shortage?

Now, as we knew it would, signs are appearing that the shortage is about to rear its ugly head again. Perhaps now we will face the problem with fresh insight and conviction. At the least, nurse retention is about to become a business imperative again.

I just got back from the annual convention of the National Nursing Staff Development Organization in Chicago and talk of retention was everywhere. Nursing professional development specialists are on the front lines of retention and professional development efforts and they know they have to plan ahead.

It is energizing to hear nursing leaders talk about shared experiences and challenges. This year’s NNSDO conference featured more pep and vigor than any I’ve attended in the last few years of the economic downturn.

This year, the focus was back on nurse retention. Staff development specialists know that a good way to retain nurses—and ensure a competent nursing staff providing quality care —is to offer professional development opportunities. They were also trying to figure out how to implement the recommendations from the IOM’s Future of Nursing report, such as improving the transition experience for new graduate nurses through offering nurse residency programs.

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