Few Health Facilities Prepared for Shortage of Nurse Leaders

Fast-forward four years, when approximately 20% of nurse leaders and 35% of nursing employees will have retired, according to a new survey of 980 nurse leaders in the United States and Canada.

Now fast-forward 14 years to 2020, only to discover that these estimates get worse. The data shows that by then, 75% of current nurse leaders say they plan to retire, with more than 50% of their nursing employees also retiring.

Bolstering Recruitment

“In order to replace those who are retiring, it will be necessary to bolster recruitment and hiring efforts and retention of nurse leaders and nursing employees. We believe if targeted solutions could be implemented, the loss of nurse leaders and nursing employees could be alleviated,” study author Karen Hart said in a news release.

The survey was conducted to provide an overview of programs and strategies currently used by a small percentage of healthcare organizations to retain their aging workforces.

The survey notes that although nurses are retiring at a rapid rate, only a few of the healthcare organizations have implemented solutions to assist in the recruitment and retention of nurses. For example, 22% of organizations have implemented lift teams; 24% have redesigned roles for mature nurses; and 9% have developed a formal succession plan.

From Agencies to Referrals

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At Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, the nonprofit facility does not work with agencies, instead relying on word-of-mouth, referral bonuses, and retention bonuses. The facility’s nurse recruiter, Michael Ball, says he offers a competitive wage along with tuition reimbursement.

He says one of the biggest problems is keeping new nurses, who think it will be a glorious role until they learn how tough it will be to work toward a desired shift or specialty.

“We are losing a lot of nurses to agencies; we have to see what makes an agency more appealing to a nurse rather than a hospital staff. The nurses can pick-and-choose their schedules, and they get tired of the politics in the hospitals. The agencies offer them more flexibility,” says Ball. “Another thing we look at is recruiting people from the Caribbean islands and other foreign countries.”

In addition to retiring nurses, the problem is compounded by retiring nursing professors, leaving a shortage of experienced nursing educators to carry on the profession, he adds.

Bernard Hodes Group, the New York talent solutions provider, conducted the study. The company’s healthcare division is staffed by RNs with clinical, managerial, and recruiting experience.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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