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Determining The Cause Of First-Year Nursing Turnover

Posted on: March 22nd, 2017 by Ben Eubanks

The average hospital loses between five and seven million dollars a year due to nursing turnover costs. Beyond the upfront cost, we must also consider the adverse impact on patients’ quality of care that results when overworked and over-stressed nurses are dealing with the increased workload. Turnover is a serious problem that needs addressing, especially when it most frequently occurs in the critical early days of a nurse’s tenure. It’s important to ensure that new RNs, especially recent graduates, are given enough support and attention so they remain and become long-term contributors to the organization.

First-Year Turnover

NSI Nursing Solutions’ 2016 National Healthcare Retention and RN Staffing Report found that first-year RN turnover is at 30%. While turnover among any population is painful, it is especially difficult when it occurs within a nurse’s first year on the job. With a skilled position like nursing, the first year consists of a significant amount of training, which means that all of those costs are unrecoverable if the person departs.

In addition, RN vacancy rates are increasing. While a number of factors contribute to this shortage, the primary reason is due to a lack of RN educators to help grow and develop the next generation of nurses.

Other turnover reasons commonly found for this RN population include unhappiness with their schedules and work hours, a lack of professional development, unfavorable supervisor relationships, and the reality of their job not matching the expectations they had when they were hired. The cost of turnover is significant and healthcare organizations that want to turn the tide must make appropriate efforts to target this vulnerable population of clinical staff and support the needs of the people within it.

How to Reduce First-Year RN Turnover

One of the most effective ways to reduce RN turnover is to develop a residency program. According to the University Health System Consortium & American Association of Colleges of Nursing, first year RN retention can go up to 95.6% when residency programs are in place.

Residency programs help to fill the gap between school and practice. The goal is to continue education, mentoring, and support, so new nurses become competent, confident contributors. It doesn’t require administrators to move mountains in order to set up a residency program–the key elements are actually quite simple.

Elements Of A Nursing Residency Program

A residency program requires participation and cooperation from nurse managers, doctors, and human resources professionals. It’s something that must be planned ahead of time, and phased into everyone’s workload.

Other Powerful Nursing Retention Tools

You can implement additional best practices to help the first-year nurses you have right now. Some of these include:

It isn’t easy to deliver high-quality patient outcomes when your organization is constantly battling to hold on to its RN population. While nurses leave for many reasons, the best practices described above are essential tools for retaining new graduates. These efforts can solve several challenges, bring your RN population closer together, and create the foundation for the sustainable nursing workforce your organization needs.

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