...I need(ed) a lot of reassurance. Had I gone to a unit where they put me with a preceptor who really didn't care about educating...I think I would have struggled big time....[but] they never treated me like I was stupid," are common responses of new nurses in mentoring programs (Hodges 2008, p.83). Mentors provided advice on psychologically coping with the emotional demands of nursing, time management, accuracy, and striking a balance between work and professional life.
Mentoring programs are especially important for nurses given that "developing an ability to thrive in unpredictable health care environments is crucial to all nurses, but particularly to practice in acute care settings" (Hodges 2008, p.80). All healthcare settings draw upon a nurses' ability "to recover quickly or adjust to adversity is commonly known as resilience. The capacity for resilience allows one to reframe, adapt, balance, persist, and grow in the face of adversity and hardship, but requires both suffering and perseverance in the struggle to work through emerging difficulties and to integrate experiences of crisis into a sense of well-being" (Hodges 2008, p.80). "The new nurse is faced with overwhelming questions: Do I really want to be a nurse? Am I cut out for the nursing profession? Do I want to stay?" And a positive role model is critical in generating positive answers from the nurse (Hodges 2008, p.85).
Showing respect for the stresses nurses undergo is also a vital component in increasing job satisfaction and retention. The McGill University Health Center (MUHC) in Montreal gives individuals with more than five years service, an additional week off a year, as well as three scheduled personal days for all staff. "While the improvements have led to greater retention of staff, initially there was skepticism from senior management" (Harder 2009, p.12). "Ironically, since nurse retention is often considered to be everyone's priority at a hospital, it often becomes no one's priority. A dedicated retention specialist takes ownership of this function and provides both continuous retention improvement and accountability" (Miller 2008, p.18).
Effective continuing nurse retention of experienced staff is, of course, also essential, and "can be traced directly to the value hospital leadership places on the nursing staff" (Miller 2008, p.18). Including the chief nursing officer (CNO) as part of the senior administrative team, involving nurses on in committees that have an impact on patient care, and compensating nurses well in terms of salaries, overtime and leave, and protecting the nurse from accidents are all critical to long-term retention strategies. " in addition, services such as a concierge and on-site day care help reduce stress and anxiety among nurses and are excellent retention tools" (Miller 2008, p.18). Physicians and nurses must strive to engage in a respectful and collaborative relationship so nurses feel like full participants rather than ancillary to patient care.
A final way to promote collaborative behavior and, by extension, improve nurse retention, is by creating a nurse retention specialist position to review specific needs of nurses within the institutional context. What rewards will encourage retention of nurses at that specific hospital, and specific concerns of nursing subspecialties all fall within the purview of the in0house specialist. "The retention specialist reviews nurses' exit interviews, as well as nurses' employee satisfaction surveys in order to identify trends in nurse turnover by unit and by manager" (Miller 2008, p.18).
Harder, Danielle. (2009, January). Hospital finds cure for retention: Time off. Canadian HR
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Hodges, Helen F., & Ann C. Keeley, Patricia J. Troyan. (2008). Professional resilience in baccalaureate-prepared acute care nurses: FIRST STEPS. Nursing Education
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Miller, Phillip. (2008, March). The keys to nurse staffing. Trustee, 61(3), 17-20. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1454011401).
Persaud, Debra. (2008). Mentoring the new graduate perioperative nurse: A valuable retention strategy. Association of Operating Room Nurses. AORN Journal, 87(6), 1173-
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