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5 Ways to Retain New Graduate Nurses

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, July 5, 2011

5. Recognize and support.

If you want commitment, you've got to show commitment. New graduates should be shown you value them and are committed to their long-term career progression. Highlight tuition reimbursement and offer praise and support for nurses who return to school. The IOM's Future of Nursing report is pushing for 80% of RNs to have their BSN by 2020. If your new hires don't have a BSN, help them set a timeframe for doing so—and a manageable path for how to get there. And don't stop at BSN.

Many new nurses burn out and leave because of bullying or a hostile workplace. Don't let new graduates be bullied by other nurses, physicians, or anyone. If you don't have a zero tolerance policy, get one now. If you have one, make sure it's being enforced. Is there a rogue cardiologist, for example, who no one wants to work with, but whose bad behavior is tolerated because he brings in so much revenue? Make a stand now. Let the organization know that bad behavior isn't tolerated from anyone.

New nurses get discouraged and burnout when real-world nursing doesn't resemble what they thought it would be. Help them make a difference and effect change. Encourage them to become involved with shared governance councils that directly influence the practice environment. Get them to enroll in quality improvement initiatives. Make sure they are learning about evidence-based practice. If your hospital doesn't have a journal club, suggest the new graduates start one. Invite enthusiastic new graduates to be part of patient satisfaction and patient experience planning.

With these five key themes addressed, your new graduate nurses will be providing excellent patient care for years to come.


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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9 comments on "5 Ways to Retain New Graduate Nurses"


INSCOL Academy (8/9/2013 at 8:31 AM)
Hi Cgilmart Thanks for sharing timely post. Nurses have the potential to make a huge impact, and We should encourage others to make the lea-pare of in the same way.

Leslie Ann Rodriguez (10/31/2012 at 11:41 AM)
Hi CG! What hospital you work in that hires new grad nurses? I'm still trying to find a hospital in NY that will accept a new grad. Any suggestions? (Montefiore and NY Presbyterian are impossible - tried for months)

CG (7/7/2011 at 9:41 AM)
I work at a hospital that does all these things. If you don't, perhaps its time to look for a place that does this. We provide individualized competency based orientations for nurses so if you're experienced, you won't sit through 4 hrs of IV training, etc. We do hire new grads and have a certified nurse residency program. Why should only doctors have time to practice their educational preparation in such a complicated field and nurses don't. I agree that its short sighted if hospitals don't hire new grads. We all had to start somewhere as a new grad. There are hospitals in my city that don't hire new grads- its their loss and our gain. These grads are fresh and ready to start their careers, let's help them love what they've invested their heart in and nurture them to give great patient care. They will be taking care of us one day, let's train them right! As the majority of nurses are women, we must stop the cycle of abuse sometimes given by seasoned nurses and doctors. This harms the patient, which is why they come into a hospital- to get great nursing care.