Healthcare is very demanding, and this is one of the reasons why it is so hard to hold on to good nurses. Additionally, this demanding nature of nursing is the reason why a lot of people choose other healthcare careers and options over nursing. While nursing is the biggest professional body in healthcare, there are still not enough nurses to go around. There are too many nurses leaving and too few coming in or staying. Because of this, healthcare institutions must do everything they can to bring more nurses in or retain the ones they already have. Here are some proposed creative solutions on how to do this.
Allow Flexible Scheduling
Many nurses say they appreciate flexible schedules. This is especially true among nurses with young families or those who are pursuing further education. Both of these things are hard and stressful enough without the additional strain of 18-hour shifts 6-7 days a week.
Overworking nurses is dangerous as it increases the risk of medical mistakes and makes it difficult for nurses to provide the best care and services to their patients. Rigid schedules give nurses very little time to decompress between shifts, many of which are usually very stressful and emotional.
Allowing flexible scheduling is a great way to keep nurses happy and satisfied. It also shows that the healthcare institution is putting the nurses’ well-being first, and this goes a long way in creating a comfortable and healthy work environment. Such an environment can help hospitals retain their best nurses.
Have an Onboarding Program in Place
A feeling of community, enough autonomy, and group cohesion are all great ways for nurses to feel as though they are part of a community. This feeling of community has been shown to lead to higher job satisfaction, which in turn helps reduce nurse turnover. An onboarding program can help make new nurses fit in and also feel like they are a part of a community.
Such an onboarding program is also important in helping eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed for the first weeks on the job. Allowing nurses to settle in before assigning them new tasks, as well as hosting small events to introduce them to the members of staff, are all great ways of making new nurses feel welcome.
Nurse residency programs can also work as onboarding programs where graduate nurses get to work beside experienced nurses. This helps the new nurses to transition smoothly into taking on nursing responsibilities by themselves without overwhelming them.
Listen to Nurses
Another great way to create a healthy work environment is to give nurses the opportunity and means to have their voices heard. Nurses should have enough time with their supervisors and manager so that they can share ideas on how to make their workplace better.
It is not enough to simply listen to nurses; it is also important to act upon their concerns. Implementing the ideas that they have as well as dealing with any concerns nurses have are both important in showing nurses that the institution is serious about their concerns.
Encourage Career and Professional Development and Advancement
Research has shown that nurses who have options for continuing education and clear personal and professional development paths will usually be more satisfied with their jobs. This satisfaction plays a great role in helping these nurses stay instead of leaving for other areas where they feel they would have these opportunities. Many nurses also say they want something to aspire to. Forging clear paths for professional and personal development gives many nurses something to aim for and this increases their chances of staying.
Lastly, healthcare institutions must make paths to nurse leadership available. Getting into leadership positions is one of the highest nursing positions a nurse can reach, and encouraging nurses to aim for these positions can give them goals to aim for. Additionally, encouraging nurses to complete a DNP executive leadership program at Baylor University, for example, guides nurse leaders towards mentorship and guidance positions. Mentorship and guidance are especially important as nurse leaders can use it to help younger nurses overcome many of the challenges that lead to nurses dropping out of the field. Even stopping 50% of those who wish to leave could have a huge impact on reducing the nursing shortage.
Incentivize Positive Behaviors
To help nurses feel appreciated, it is also a good idea to provide incentives for the actions you would like them to take. This could be providing incentives for taking extra or bad shifts, learning new skills, or even receiving a good word from a patient a nurse has cared for.These incentives are great for both the nurses and the institution; nurses get to feel appreciated and have an opportunity to advance their careers, and the institution gets to retain nurses.
Healthcare institutions should not overuse these incentives as they can encourage bad behavior such as nurses overworking or coming in when they are sick, both of which can compromise the level of care they provide.
Convert Nurses into Recruiters
Nurses can be great recruitment assets for two main reasons; nurses speak the language of nurses, and almost all nurses know other nurses looking for new opportunities. Nurses also understand the issues that affect other nurses and what is important to them. Healthcare institutions can offer incentives, monetary or otherwise, to encourage current nurses to help them with the recruitment of new nurses.Current nurses can also come in handy in the onboarding process as new nurses can relate easily to them compared to a doctor or a human resource recruiter, for example.
Strategic, long-term and drastic policy changes are indeed required on a much larger scale to deal with the nursing shortage. However, healthcare facilities can start putting measures in place that encourage new nurses to join the field and to retain new nurses once they start working. Nurse leaders can play a great role here by enacting programs that help deal with the shortage, providing mentorship, and helping to reduce the impact of the nursing shortage in patient care.