5 Ways to Retain New Graduate Nurses

Rebecca Hendren, July 5, 2011

Hospitals across the country are welcoming recently graduated nurses to their units and hoping to turn them into competent, confident nurses as quickly as possible.

New nurses have a difficult time bridging the gap from nursing school to practice and hospitals must recognize this difficult transition if they hope to keep the nurses for the long term. Here are five strategies that help new graduates through the transition and ensure that they are engaged, long-term employees.

1. Provide a competency-based orientation.

Once new graduates have completed general, organization-wide orientation, they are sent to their units and start learning how to be a nurse in their new world. Making every new nurse go through the same orientation is a bad idea. It's a waste of time to train nurses how to do something that isn't relevant to their specific job and a waste of resources to send nurses to classes they don't need. Yet many organizations do exactly that.

One-size-fits-all nurse orientation takes longer and is less effective at on-boarding new nurses. Effective orientations are based on competency assessment and personalized to nurses' individual training and development needs. Customizing training and development to graduate nurses' needs creates engaged employees and allows managers to allocate financial resources appropriately, rather than sending every employee to every class.

2. Offer a nurse residency program.

If you don't have a nurse residency program, start one. They are much more than orientation. The best programs run throughout new graduates' first year of practice and support them through the difficult transition shock and various phases of competence. The programs give new nurses the tools to become competent practitioners.

Rebecca Hendren Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at rhendren@hcpro.com.


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