Retaining experienced nurses makes good business sense, especially as hospitals and health care systems are tightening budgets as a result of the economic downturn.
Nationwide, the cost of replacing a registered nurse ranges from about $22,000 to more than $64,000, a sum reflecting expenses associated with filling temporary vacancies and hiring and training new staff. The average replacement cost of full-time registered nurses at the 13 health care systems evaluated in the “Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses” study totaled $36,567. With estimated national annual turnover rates for RNs ranging from eight to 14 percent, this can add up to a significant financial burden on hospitals and health care systems.
The loss of veteran nurses is especially costly. Nursing expertise takes years to develop; when experienced nurses leave, health care systems pay a heavy price because less experienced nurses may not recognize symptoms as quickly, understand systems, or know the best ways to avoid certain medical errors.