Nurse Development and Retention – The Future

Nurse Development and Retention – The Future

December 7, 2021
December 7, 2021

Issues related to nurse retention and development are among the issues that have been keeping healthcare leaders awake at night for decades. Complicating the issue is a pandemic that will likely have a long-lasting impact on many aspects of healthcare including nurse retention and development. 

HealthStream recently surveyed 210 healthcare leaders. The goal of the survey was to identify the nurse retention and development issues of most concern and to learn more about nurse development plans over the next two to three years.

Survey Background

The 210 respondents were representative of healthcare leaders in the U.S. They were surveyed in late August into early September.

  • They came from a wide variety of healthcare settings including skilled nursing facilities, regular acute-care hospitals, ambulatory care centers, critical access hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and more.
  • When asked to describe their current roles, approximately 62% said that they were directors with C-Suite-level executives making up the next largest category at approximately 20%. Managers, nursing/other clinical caregivers, educators and senior vice presidents, vice presidents and assistant vice presidents rounded out the rest of the list.
  • The majority of respondents (nearly70%) mentioned a clinical or nursing department when asked to describe the department in which they currently work. Rounding out the departments that were in double-digit mentions are education, executive leadership, quality/risk management, administrative support, compliance and professional/organizational development.
  • Approximately 60% of respondents indicated that their facility had less than 200 beds; however, the survey also included responses from leaders in facilities with over 500 beds and facilities with no beds.
  • Respondents were spread fairly evenly across the country and results could be segmented by North Central, North East, South East, West and South Central.

Nurse Retention and Development – The Issues

Survey respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with a series of statements using a 10-point scale where 1 represents "strongly disagree" and 10 represents "strongly agree." The results identify some common themes on the issues of both nurse development and retention.

Nearly all respondents expressed high levels of agreement with the following two statements about nurse development:

  • The development of our nursing staff is critical to the safety and satisfaction of our patients or residents.  (98% strongly agree)
  • The development of our nursing staff is critical to our organization's bottom line. (93% strongly agree)  

Interestingly, while both of these statements garnered high levels of agreement, respondents were not so confident that their organization's nurse residency programs were completely effective. The statement "I am confident that our current Nurse Residency program is effectively attracting and retaining staff" had much lower levels of agreement with just 32% of respondents strongly agreeing with this statement. Approximately 51% of respondents used an 8, 9 or 10 to rate their level of agreement with the statement "I am confident in our nurse's level of competency.

Nurse Retention and Development – Challenges for the Future

Using the same 1-10 scale, respondents were asked to rate the importance of various challenges facing their organizations. Respondents rated the following statements as most important.

  • Nurse career advancement strategies and tools – 90% of respondents used an 8, 9 or 10 when rating the importance of this issue.
  • Outcomes tied to value-based care – 89% of respondents rated this statement as extremely important.
  • Patient or resident safety – 88% of respondents rated this statements as extremely important.
  • Nurse competency gaps as experienced nurses retire – 87% of respondents rated this as extremely important.