The Importance Of Retaining Your Experienced Nurses

The Importance Of Retaining Your Experienced Nurses

The United States is facing a severe nursing shortage presently. Even though several measures are being taken to remedy this situation, the shortage is likely to continue for a few more years. On the positive side, the recent economic downfall brought several retired nurses back to work. These nurses bring their valuable experience to the workforce, while helping relieve the current resource crunch faced in the nursing arena.

A Potential Windfall

The entry of retired nurses into the work area again can only be viewed as a potential windfall by hospitals. As retired nurses return to work, they can make up 30% of the workforce, which helps staunch the nursing shortage to an extent. Therefore, it’s very important to retain these experienced nurses. According to a review by, retaining these nurses might just prove to be key to meeting the increasing demand for nurses. The demand for nursing staff is projected to increase at an annual rate of 2% to 3% in the next ten years. A recent study by the American Hospital Association (AHA) states that the US currently has 116,000 vacant nursing positions, which is a vacancy rate of 8%. You can read more about the present nursing shortage situation on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing at

How To Retain Experienced Nurses

The experienced nurses who have returned to the task force are all 50+. As such, their need to earn money during failing economical conditions is what has propelled them to return. As economic conditions improve, these nurses might retire again and health care centers might lose out on their potential windfall. Health care centers are coming up with innovative ideas to retain these nurses.

Here are a few popular, doable suggestions to achieve this goal.

Improve Workplace Conditions

To ensure that the older, experienced nurses are not inconvenienced while working, health care centers and hospitals must focus on improving workplace conditions. This can include:

  • Adding more elevators or escalators to remove the strain of climbing stairs
  • Hiring nursing assistants to assist nurses to lift heavy equipment, and to shift patients from one location to the other
  • Investing in lift equipment to help nurses lift patients and heavy equipment
  • Using larger text for computer readouts and screens so that nurses don’t have to strain themselves to read instructions. Using larger texts and larger screens help keep the nurses accurate, improves productivity and the morale of aging nurses.

Modify Compensation And Benefit Packages

Older nurses have needs that are different from the younger crowd. Compensation and benefit packages must be planned in such a way that the older nurses benefit.

  • The present nursing flexible packages allow nurses to draw funds for additional training, which may not be a priority for older nurses. The benefit package could be modified to allow experienced nurses to use the funds to pay health insurance premium.
  • From an alternative perspective, a nurse may prefer to forego employer-paid health insurance and choose a higher wage rate instead. People’s needs change over time and savvy employers who learn and adapt will find themselves better equipped to deal with the nursing shortage.
  • Compensate older nurses adequately for the role they play and for the experience they bring in. Hospitals should analyze what a nurse truly represents while fixing the compensation components. Nurses are not just health care providers, but they are also critical thinkers, analyzers of scientific data and quick decision makers. These are the factors that make an experienced nurse truly invaluable.

Provide Flexible Scheduling

Hospitals manage their 24/7 patient care needs by scheduling nurses and medical staff around the clock. This scheduling has some flexibility built into it; the Internet is now used to allow nurses to bid for shifts. Night and weekend shifts are offered at premium rates and nurses who win these shifts enjoy more money. Hospitals can smoothen this process by using third party bidding software.

Assign Roles Intelligently

Experienced nurses can perform more useful roles than regular full time hands-on health care. Hospitals will benefit if they leverage the treasure trove of experience and deploy older nurses as teachers and mentors for young nurses. Older nurses can be a great source of wisdom and support for new nurses; this will help stabilize new nurses, who will discharge their duties comfortably knowing they have an older senior as a guide. Modifying and reassigning roles to older nurses takes a certain amount of innovation; some health care organizations have succeeded better at this than others.

Ensure Job Satisfaction

Nurses don’t work just for the money. Caring for patients day in and day out can be taxing; true satisfaction comes when they know they’re appreciated. A health care center that wants to retain nurses must practice several attributes. These are encourage collaborative culture, excellent communication and mutual accountability; provide competent and visible leadership; advocate shared decision making; encourage continuous growth and development, and value a nurse’s contribution.

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