Renowned Hospital Needed Healing:
Treating the Condition of Nurse Attrition
Of the nurses who had left or were planning to leave, the overwhelming majority – 70%, were new graduate, first-year nurses.
Even among the top rated hospitals in the nation, there can be issues behind the scenes. Even with the best and brightest talent, there can be friction. One such hospital, world-renowned for innovative technology and outstanding patient care, was suffering from its own internal epidemic of high nurse attrition. We were brought in to provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.
We conducted focus groups with the nursing staff. In addition, we instituted a policy of holding exit interviews and surveyed all nurses who had left the hospital the previous two years. The analysis was eye opening. Of the nurses who had left or were planning to leave, the overwhelming majority – 70%, were new graduate, first-year nurses.
As is policy at this hospital and many hospitals, the new nurses were required to spend their first year working on the medical surgical floor, no matter what their area of interest might be, such as pediatric nursing. In addition, our interviews uncovered a hostile culture where more experienced nurses were unwelcoming and harsh toward the newer nurses.
Based on our analysis, we made a number of major recommendations that were implemented by the hospital’s senior management. Our first recommendation was to shorten new nurses’ time on the medical surgical floor. Second was to incorporate exploration of nurses’ areas of interest in the hiring process and give hiring preference to those interested in critical hiring areas, such as the medical surgical area.
Our final recommendation was to establish a mentorship program where each new nurse is assigned a mentor to support them during their first year. This program honors the more senior nurses and their experience and involved them in becoming part of the solution by sharing their knowledge in a positive, team-building manner.
The implementation of our recommendations resulted in significantly reduced attrition among new graduate, first-year nurses, as well as improved employee engagement scores among both new and experienced nurses.
As in the practice of medicine, once a problem is diagnosed and treated, following a healthy lifestyle can lead to good health for an individual as well as an organization.
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