Friday, August 7, 2009

RWJF Study Suggests Strategies for Reducing Nurse Turnover

A new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) proposes a series of strategies aimed at improving nurse retention, the Wichita Eagle reports. Coordinated by The Lewin Group, the Wisdom at Work study is based on seven case studies of health care and nonhealth care employers that have been recognized for their efforts to retain experienced workers, as well as on findings from 13 research projects conducted between January 2007 and December 2008 that evaluated various retention efforts in hospitals. Although the researchers were unable to identify a common strategy that improved retention at all of the evaluated institutions, they were able to identify several successful initiatives implemented at individual institutions. For example, Tucson, Ariz.-based Carondelet Health Network implemented a "snow bird" program, which allows R.N.s to work for three, six or nine months at a time, which presents an appealing option to R.N.s who reside in Tucson only during particular months of the year. The report also highlights a mentoring program at Virginia-based Bon Secours Richmond Health System that taps experienced R.N.s to provide clinical and leadership mentoring to new nurses. According to an RWJF release, the program has helped to reduce turnover among new nurses. In addition, the report profiles a continuing education opportunity offered by Pitt County Memorial Hospital in North Carolina that allows tenured nurses to participate in three-day off-site training sessions to learn how they can practice more effectively in the hospital environment. Another practice that seemingly bolstered nurse retention was providing nurses with a voice. For example, Scripps Health in San Diego created a "leadership cabinet" under which nurse leaders were invited to advise hospital administrators on important decisions and serve as a liaison to voice employee concerns. Meanwhile, the research projects revealed that nurse turnover rates improved in cases where employers took innovative approaches to staffing; offered employee health and wellness programs; and provided training and development opportunities for senior nurses. In addition, although ergonomic initiatives, such as safe patient handling programs, did not directly contribute to an overall decline in turnover rates, it did improve employee morale. Commenting on the report, RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller notes that "at a time when organizations everywhere are looking hard at their bottom lines, the 'Wisdom at Work' evaluations demonstrate the economic benefits of retaining experienced workers, which can improve productivity and workplace morale." (Shideler, Wichita Eagle, 7/29/09; RWJF release, 7/29/09; RWJF report, 7/29/09)

(c) RWJF, 2009

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