Evaluation of The Robert Wood Johnson Wisdom at Work

Recognizing the wealth of clinical expertise, organizational knowledge and judgment that experienced nurses bring to the patient bedside, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is collaborating with hospitals, health systems and nursing leaders to develop and disseminate “best practice” programs designed to improve retention of experienced hospital nurses.

In 2006, RWJF commissioned a white paper, Wisdom at Work: the Importance of the Older and Experienced Nurses in the Workplace that identified strategies intended to contribute to the retention of experienced nurses, and recommended that resources be invested to test those strategies. The Foundation supported that recommendation by funding the Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses Research Initiative.

Under the initiative, RWJF provided grants averaging about $75,000 each to 13 pre-existing hospital-based initiatives largely focused on improving experienced R.N. retention. The primary purpose of these grants was to evaluate the outcomes of each initiative through the collection and analysis of key performance data. In addition to trends in experienced R.N. turnover rates, other nursing-related outcomes examined included the average direct costs of R.N. turnover and trends in R.N. patient handling injuries and hospital disability costs for hospitals with ergonomic initiatives.

The Lewin Group (Lewin) was commissioned by RWJF to serve as the National Coordinating Center and evaluator for the initiative. Responsibilities included coordinating and conducting the evaluation, providing technical assistance to grantees in data collection, conducting data analysis to identify program outcomes, success factors and lessons learned that influenced those outcomes and coordinating the 2007 and 2008 annual convenings of grantees at the Foundation.

This evaluation was carried out between January, 2007 and December, 2008. The first 18 months (January, 2007-June, 2008) focused on providing evaluation coordination and technical assistance services to participating organizations and collecting and analyzing performance data. The final six months (July-December, 2008) focused on data synthesis and development and presentation of evaluation findings.