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Hospitals Focus On Retaining Nurses

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

February 18, 2009

In an effort to curb a nationwide nursing shortage and prevent burnout, hospitals are investing in residencies, training and mentoring programs to provide support to new nurses.

In Bismarck, North Dakota, KFYR-TV reports that up to 20 percent of nurses quit the profession within their first year on the job. In response to this problem, rookie nurses are paired with more experienced nurses for four to six months at a local clinic, MedCenter One.

Krystal Kary, a registered nurse for about eight months, told KFYR-TV that the program has helped her a great deal. "I don't know if I could have transitioned into nursing comfortably without being prepared for the amount of time that I was," she said.

Similar programs are being facilitated throughout the country. FierceHealthcare notes that the Versant RN Residency, which was developed at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and used at 70 hospitals nationwide, pairs new nurses with veteran nurses for 18 weeks.

Hospitals have seen noticeably improved nursing retention rates as a result of the programs. Nearly all of MedCenter One's nurses remain employed there, and at Baptist Health South Florida - which runs a nursing residency program - nursing turnover rates have fallen from 22 percent to 10 percent in 18 months.

A related story from the Associated Press [from an article originally located at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=6883332] quotes Peter Buerhaus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who remarks that the national nursing shortage is expected to reach 500,000 by 2025 as nurses retire and demand increases along with aging baby boomers.

According to the article, hospitals are investing as much as $5,000 per nursing residency, an amount that personnel experts say is well worth it. By contrast, the cost of recruiting and training a replacement for a nurse is about $50,000.

At Baptist, the residency program includes classroom instruction and support from mentors. New nurses can turn to these mentors regularly for career advice or guidance. In addition, new nurses periodically meet as groups for mutual support.

Recognizing the benefits of these programs, the federal government has awarded $17 million in grants to 75 hospitals since 2003 for first-year training programs. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing is also considering a standardized transition program.

Because of the nationwide nursing shortage, the nursing profession is regarded as one of the few recession-proof jobs available. US News & World Report listed registered nurses as one of the best possible careers in 2009, noting that successful nurses must be extremely detail-oriented as well as caring.

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