When I meet Nurses all over the country, one common complaint is the high staff turnover and the lack of retention. It is exhausting to train a new hire, especially a new graduate to have them leave after one year of experience. The more experienced, senior Nurses carry the burden when working with a less skilled team. Burnout is a real problem that is exacerbated by precepting Nursing students and new Nurses.
It frustrates me too, yet I found myself encouraging a new Nurse to consider changing hospitals after she gets her first year or two of experience. Here’s why: High turnover, poor morale, lack of management support, and significantly lower pay than neighboring hospitals. If she doesn’t leave within her first two years, she will likely stay for two reasons, she likes her coworkers and she fears change. If the writing is on the wall, consider it a gift that you can see it early enough before you become trapped by your growing seniority.
Instead of complaining about high turnover, staff and management should take the time to do exit interviews and investigate what is driving staff to leave and figure out a way to adapt to retain staff. When Nurses leave they often serve as a source of inspiration for others to do the same.
All of us deserve the time to take a step back and look at the pros and cons of our work situation. Nothing is ideal all the time and if your work life provides enough flexibility and satisfaction for your current life, good for you. If you find your list of pros are outnumbered by the cons, start investigating your options. Today I met a Nurse from Alabama who is working on a travel assignment in California. She is married with three children and she flies back and forth every week. While you may not need to go to the extreme of traveling out of state, you can certainly look outside the box.
Healthcare changes continue to ripple through insurance companies, into hospitals, impacting Nurses. Large hospital systems are scooping up little community hospitals that can no longer stay afloat. We will soon be approaching a mass exodus of baby boomer Nurses retiring. As we continue to adapt, one thing you can count on is that nothing stays the same.