"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."