Lessons Learned

One central theme emerged from the “Wisdom at Work: Retaining Experienced Nurses” two-year study of hospitals and best-practice organizations: There is no quick fix that hospitals and health care systems can take to keep senior employees on staff. Although many hospitals in the study saw improved morale and productivity—and lower turnover rates among veteran nurses—as a result of efforts aimed at retaining experienced nurses, no single initiative worked in every setting.

To be sure, hospital and health care system leaders can reduce turnover among veteran employees if they tailor individual programs to meet the unique needs of their own nursing workforces. But those individual efforts often work best if they are part of a larger effort that involves a sustained commitment on the part of leaders to recognize the value of older employees and implement a variety of policies and practices that will entice those employees to stay on the job.