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Experienced Nurses Are Less Expensive Than You Think

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2014

"I don't want nurses to feel like we don't support new graduates," Hickey says. In fact, she calls for quite the opposite, arguing that new graduates need to be supported and mentored for two years. That includes a six-month orientation, as well as a mentor to talk to, have classes with, and constantly learn from. She also says that nurses with less than two years experience should make up no more than 20% of a unit's staff.

Hickey says another takeaway for nurse leaders is at the other end of the experience spectrum: That it's critical to retain experienced nurses. Poor pay, poor schedules, no flexibility, limited advancement, and lack of educational opportunities are common reasons that experienced nurses leave their jobs, but as this study shows, it pays in outcomes to improve these workplace factors in order to keep the most experienced nurses, who can also mentor younger nurses as well.

Hickey says older nurses aren't expensive; they're "priceless."

"There is nothing more expensive than turnover… [the hiring process] is far more expensive than the salary that you're going to pay to a senior nurse, and all nurse leaders know that," Hickey says.

"I think we now, for the first time, have illustrated why nurses deserve the salaries that they get—because they are saving lives and they are rescuing patients from bad outcomes."


Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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3 comments on "Experienced Nurses Are Less Expensive Than You Think"


Judy Martin DMc MSN BSN RN (1/28/2014 at 9:39 PM)
This is an excellent article and long over due. The less experienced RN tends to focus on the task forgetting to look at the actual patient. It is experience and that "gut feeling" that cues the experience nurse to question what the monitor is saying about a patient they know just doesn't look right.

Katie Pierson (1/12/2014 at 10:46 PM)
I have only read this post and not the actual article, but they are making claims that education has an impact as well when the only findings discussed are at the experience level. Does anyone know if the results in the study are directly linked to education as well??

Jodi Dotson (1/8/2014 at 1:26 PM)
It is about time that experience nurses get the recognition they deserve . I wish that my small town of Port Angeles, Wa would take notice. The local hospital hires new grads over experience. So that leaves the experienced ones to take lower paying jobs at the few nursing homes . I do like working with elderly but short staffed 1 nurse to 22-25 patients. Burnout fast. Great topic. Thanks