How To Keep The Best Nurse Talents: Addressing Nurse Retention

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Nurse retention has been plaguing hospitals around the country for years. Just last year, nurse turnover rose to an alarming 16.8%, emphasizing the issues connected with nurse retention. Also, a survey conducted for new RNs, 25% of registered nurses leave their first jobs within a year? Understanding these statistics are crucial for proper nurse staffing as well as the recruitment and retention of nurses in the hospital. Hospital administrators should understand the importance of nurse retention strategies for efficient hospital operations.

Low Nurse Retention: Problems and Solutions

It is important to identify the effects of low nurse retention and how hospital managers (including nurse leaders) can address these problems. Below are some problems caused by low nurse retention and the solutions to address these:

Problem #1: Low Nurse Retention Can Lead To Higher Staff Turnovers

If a hospital has low nurse retention, it can lead to increased staff turnovers. Low nurse retention is usually attributed to problems encountered while working at the hospital. These include working double shifts and nurse burnout. However, there are also those RNs who voluntarily resigned because they have to relocate or retire. Other nurses cited personal reasons as to why they have to leave their current jobs.


Personal nurse mentoring can help struggling nurses to ease in their current job roles. A dedicated nurse mentor can advise newly hired nurses on how to go about their duties in the hospital, know what to expect while working in the hospital setting, as well as how to plan the trajectory of their nursing careers. Rookie nurses may feel relieved that they have a person of authority guiding them while starting out on their nursing career.

Problem #2: Low Nurse Retention Can Lead To Nursing Recruitment Problems

Low nurse retention can also put the unnecessary burden to recruiters. They will have to work overtime in order to fill the gaps left by nurses who already left the hospital. It is an intricate balance because they will also have to appease the nurses who are still working at the hospital. These highly skilled nurses could also be looking for better opportunities elsewhere if the hospital does not have the right staffing complement ratio. On the other hand, it may also be time-consuming to look for the perfect talent that will be able to help the hospital in its day-to-day operations.


Nurse recruiters may have to reconsider their approach in terms of hiring new nurses in order to solve low nurse retention. In the selection process itself, recruiters may have to screen applicants not just on their technical know-how, but on how they relate to others as well. Even new nurse graduates seem to be well-trained already on the day-to-day hospital operations. What seems to be lacking is an established process of selecting candidates based on their behavior and other relational qualities. Nurses tend to work in teams. As such, hiring based on these qualities may help recruiters curb low nurse retention in the long run.

Problem #3: Low Nurse Retention Is An Indicator Of Unhappy Nurse Staff

Low nurse retention can be an indicator of other problematic areas in the management of nursing staff in the hospital. If a hospital has low nurse retention, it can be attributed to generally low morale of the nurses working there. Some examples of the causes of which can include low pay and unhealthy working environment.


Hospital administrators can address these issues by listening to the nurses themselves. What do the nurses in the hospital really need? By conducting surveys or consultative meetings with the nurses, administrators can choose from several possible solutions to the things brought up by the nurses during the consultations or surveys.

Nurse retention

The Cost of Nurse Retention

Nurse retention has its costs as well, both perceived and actual. Some of these costs include productivity costs, training costs, and actual costs to the lives of their patients. Each of them are discussed in detail in this section.

  • Costs Lives

Low nurse retention can actually cost lives. Overworked and underpaid nurses are prone to job-related errors that may be detrimental to their patients. This may also be costly to the hospital—when the patient’s family members sue the hospital for medical malpractice—when in fact, it is not entirely the fault of the nurses themselves. They are just driven to the wall because of too much work.

  • Productivity Costs

Usually, nurses who are already considering to leave have lower productivity rates than their counterparts. This may prove to be costly for running smooth hospital operations. The motivation of nurses is a huge factor affecting nurse retention. If the nurses are already demotivated in their work, they incur productivity costs to the institution as a whole. Even if they are present in the hospital, these nurses may be performing subpar due to lack of external or internal motivation.

  • Training Costs

In those areas that need the help of highly skilled nurses, most hospitals shell out money for in-depth training. Nurse administrators believe in the importance of continuous capacity development so that the nurses are kept up to date with the best practices in their areas. However, the alarming rates of low nurse retention can mean that hospitals have to shell out more for training costs. In addition, if there are new hires every month, nurse leaders have to spend more time training the new staff than actually focusing on the work at hand. The HR staff would also have to conduct additional trainings for these new hires that may eat up hospital savings or other budgetary allotments.

The effective nurse retention practices’ perceived benefits far outweigh its costs. Effective nurse retention starts even before the nurses are in the hospital itself. Nursing recruitment staff have a huge role to play in selecting the right talent, through conducting a series of interviews or tests to evaluate the behavioral competencies of the nurse candidates. Nurse mentoring also plays a role in curbing low nurse retention in any hospital. Most new nurses look up to their supervisors. If the nurse leaders themselves are the ones mentoring the new staff, it could be said that these nurses will likely stay in the hospital.


Does the hospital you’re connected to properly address nursing turnover? Make your voice be heard using the comment section below.


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