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Compensation Not a Primary Challenge for Nursing Recruiters

News  |  By Jonathan Bees  
   April 12, 2017

Factors such as engagement and leadership development play a larger role in nurse retention, HealthLeaders survey data shows.

Healthcare leaders in the March 2017 HealthLeaders Media Nursing Excellence Survey say that nurse retention (61%) and nurse recruitment (59%) are the top nursing challenges that their organizations are facing. The next level of responses are nurse engagement (35%) and nurse leadership development (33%).

Compensation requirements (26%) falls in the middle of the responses, indicating that money is not one of the main drivers in nurse employment, and that factors such as engagement and leadership development play a larger role in nurse retention.

Top Nurse Retention Tactics Identified

One driver of nurse retention may involve the length of a typical nursing shift. According to our survey, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) say that the typical nursing shift in their organization is 12 hours, and another 29% indicate that the typical shift is eight hours.

Interestingly, the data reveals a correlation between longer nurse shift lengths and higher responses for nurse retention as a challenge.

For example, a greater share of respondents who say shift lengths are 12 hours mention nurse retention as a challenge (65%) than respondents who say shift lengths are eight hours (49%). This suggests that fatigue from longer shift lengths may be partly responsible for nurses leaving an organization.

Survey responses reveal the scope of the retention problem—while almost three quarters of respondents (71%) say that their organizations' RN turnover rate over the past 12 months is less than 20%, one-quarter (25%) of respondents indicate that their turnover rate is 20% or more.

This type of turnover could create difficulties for provider organizations because of the need to be in training mode, which disrupts productivity.

According to Jennifer Gentry, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi - Memorial and CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi - Shoreline, part of the Texas-based CHRISTUS Spohn Health System with six hospitals and more than 15 medical clinics throughout southeast Texas, there are two main factors impacting nurse retention rates.

"I think that we, as healthcare organizations, need to better align with our schools of nursing. I don't believe that our nurses today are coming out of schools prepared for what the actual role of a professional nurse is. We see that with our nurses in the first year. They get here, they're overwhelmed, they didn't think it was going to be like this; it's a lot of work. They're just not prepared, and I think that's a big piece of losing the nurse in the first year," said Gentry.

"What I found interesting in the survey results, is that nurse leadership development is number four on the list regarding the top three nursing challenges in healthcare organizations."

"If we don't do strong nurse leadership development, then we're shooting ourselves in the foot when it comes to retention, recruitment, and engagement because those frontline nurse leaders, they're the key to all these things," Gentry said.

"They're the ones that are going to create the unit that the nurses want to be on—that strong work environment, those good work relationships, the teamwork, the engagement, the input. And if we're not developing those nurse leaders, then it will be difficult for us to make any improvement in any of those top three challenges."

Jonathan Bees is a research analyst for HealthLeaders.

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