Experienced Nurse Retention Strategies

What Can be Learned from Top-Performing Organizations

As the first point of contact for most patients, nurses play a key role in ensuring high quality care in hospital settings. Consequently, a commitment to first-rate patient care requires retaining experienced registered nurses (RNs). However, according to a 2006 national study, 55 percent of nurses plan to retire between 2011 and 2020. This approaching nursing shortage needs to be addressed.

Recognizing this opportunity, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded Retaining Experienced Workers: Case Studies of Top Performing Organizations. The program developed seven case studies at hospitals and non-health care organizations known for success in retaining experienced employees. Despite the range of different organizations profiled, the paper highlights several retention strategies that can be applied to the experienced workforce, such as:

  • A commitment by hospital leadership to maintaining a culture that values and rewards experienced employees.
  • A focus on data-driven decision-making to identify retention risks and needs.
  • An organization-wide structure that aligns benefits to support retention objectives.

Importantly, Hirschkorn et al., stress there is no silver bullet that will single-handedly improve experienced RN retention. Retaining experienced RNs requires learning from workforce development models inside and outside the health care sector, and investing in tangible and intangible improvements to enhance the entire system.