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Nurse Retention Strategies a Growing Priority

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 11, 2011

The Great Recession offers few silver linings, but the economic downturn has played a huge part in alleviating the shortage of nurses in this country.

Simply put, nurses haven’t been able to afford to retire.

If your nurse retention strategy is built around the recession, however, you may be in trouble. A 2011 survey from healthcare recruiters at AMN Healthcare found that one-quarter of the 1,002 registered nurses surveyed say they will look for a new place to work as the economy recovers – up sharply from the 15% who said they’d look for a new job in a 2010 survey.

The 2011 Survey of Registered Nurses: Job Satisfaction and Career Plans, also found that while nurse career satisfaction was high at 74%, actual satisfaction with the role RNs now hold was at 58%, down from 66% in the 2010 survey. Most alarmingly, the survey found that 32% of nurses plan to take steps in the next one to three years that would take them out of nursing, up from the 26% who said they would take those steps in the 2010 survey.

And, regardless of what the economy is doing, the simple fact is that nurses are getting older. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing cites studies that show that the average age of RNs in the United States is expected to reach 44.5 years by 2012. Nursing can be stressful, both mentally and physically, with new demands and expectations piled on almost daily.

Marcia Donlon, RN, vice president medical center/CNO at Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, WI, says she is not surprised by the findings.

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