Executive Summary of Evaluation Report

With their deep clinical expertise and broad organizational knowledge, veteran nurses play a critical role in helping hospitals and health care systems meet their core mission: delivering high quality patient care. Yet the nursing workforce is aging along with the rest of the population—a phenomenon that threatens to leave hospitals with a dearth of experienced nurses just as the baby-boomer generation hits old age and places new demands on the nation’s health care system.

To help hospitals and health care systems keep more of their most experienced nurses at patient bedsides, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has developed programs designed to identify ways to improve veteran nurse retention. As part of this effort, the Foundation conducted a study, “Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses,” which found that health care organizations were able to lower turnover rates among veteran nurses at several organizations by making a concerted effort to improve nurse morale and productivity.

The study includes seven in-depth case studies examining strategies used by institutions that have been successful in retaining experienced workers, as well as 13 research projects conducted from January 2007 to December 2008 to explore the impact of interventions aimed at retaining experienced nurses in hospitals. It is a follow-up to the groundbreaking white paper, Wisdom at Work: The Importance of the Older and Experienced Nurses in the Workplace, commissioned by RWJF in 2006.