An article on Medical News Today discusses the recent healthcare summit at the White House that discussed the nursing shortage and the threat it poses on patient care in the United States. In the article they highlight a study by Dr. Peter Buerhaus that found that 80% of nurses believe the nursing shortage affects their ability to deliver quality care.
The University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), an alliance of 103 academic medical centers and 210 of their affiliated hospitals, is asking hospitals to focus on nursing staff retention, especially during the economic downturn in support of Obama’s administration’s call to action.
The article discussed the UHC’s call for a greater emphasis on retaining new nurse graduates and highlighted their work with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to create the UHC/AACN Nurse Residency Program. The one-year program provides a curriculum and support aimed at new graduate nurses by giving them the tools they need to survive the intense pressure that comes with being a nurse in a hospital. So far the program has had great results in improving nurse retention. One hospital system that has implemented the program saw its turnover rate for new nurses go from 34% to 7% after just two years.
I don’t know the numbers for other industries, but the number of young nurses leaving the profession seems very high. I have not run across the same thing for allied health specialties like physical therapists, occupational therapists or imaging techs. Is this because of a disconnect between what the student nurse is promised versus the reality, is the atmosphere too intimidating, are they not practicing in the specialty they wanted, are the older nurses hostile to the new nurses? From what I read these are all a big part of it, but with the nursing shortage so high it is important to address these issues as early as possible regradless of which one is the biggest contributor.
One way is implementing the UHC’s program at your hospital or creating your own similar program. Have you?
Another is to give your new nurses the tools they need. If your new nurses are dealing with this, RealityRN is a great website for them to check out. They can let off steam and talk to other nurses who have dealt with first year burn out in their nursing careers and get advice.