Chief Nursing Officer Retention and Turnover

A Crisis Brewing? Results of a National Survey

Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs), or nursing executives, serve an important role in hospital and health care management. Accordingly, the issue of turnover and retention of CNOs is of particular relevance.

This study examined CNO turnover and retention as the initial part of a three-part investigation. Study participants were 622 CNOs from across the United States who completed an online survey.

Key Findings:

  • Close to 40 percent of CNOs reported leaving a position as CNO during their careers. The majority (77%) left voluntarily with approximately 50 percent choosing to take another position as CNO and 30 percent pursuing other opportunities to advance their careers.
  • Job satisfaction was quite high for CNOs with 48 percent of participants reporting being satisfied and 37 percent reporting being very satisfied. Nevertheless, approximately 61 percent of CNOs stated they intended to pursue other job opportunities within the next five years.
  • The majority of CNOs reported good or excellent relationships with staff nurses (78%), nurse managers and directors (94%), senior organizational leaders (87%), and CEOs (79%).

Given the results of these findings, investigators described policies to promote retention and reduce turnover for CNOs. Examples of such policies were planning for leadership succession and attending to the nature of the CNO work/practice environment.

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