Addressing the Nursing Crisis: Strategies to Retain New Nurses and Secure the Future of the Profession

Jun 11 / Teresa Sanderson, RN, CCM
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As a nurse and the founder of Nurses Feed Their Young, I am deeply concerned about the future of our profession. Recently, I came across a shocking statistic that 33% of nurses are quitting the profession within their first two years of practice. This alarming trend has far-reaching consequences for the nursing profession and the healthcare industry as a whole.

When I consider the immense investment of time, money, and energy that goes into becoming a nurse – attending college, completing educational programs, studying for exams, and passing the nursing boards – it's disheartening to see so many new nurses abandoning their hard-earned careers within such a short timeframe. The decision to leave the profession entirely, not just a particular job or role, is a serious matter that demands our attention.

As a profession, we must recognize that our new nurses are the lifeblood of nursing. They bring fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and the promise of a bright future. However, if we continue to lose one-third of our new nurses within their first two years, it will take a tremendous toll on our ability to provide quality patient care and maintain adequate staffing levels. I fear that if this trend persists, our profession may not have the capacity to recover.

To effectively create a supportive environment for new nurses, we must first understand the key reasons that drive them to leave the profession. By examining these factors, we can develop targeted strategies to address the challenges they face and foster a culture of support and success.

Key Reasons for New Nurses Leaving:

  1. Heavy workload and understaffing
  2. Lack of consistent leadership
  3. Negative workplace culture and organizational dynamics

The Impact of the Pandemic on Nursing Education:

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges faced by new nurses. Clinical experiences for nursing students have become limited, resulting in a different caliber of new nurses entering the workforce. While this is not their fault, it contributes to the difficulties they face when transitioning into professional practice.

Strategies to Support and Retain New Nurses:

  1. Prioritize staffing: Ensure adequate staffing levels and provide support from senior staff to assist new nurses with procedures and competencies they may not feel 100% comfortable with.
  2. Prepare nursing students for reality: Nursing schools should incorporate curriculum that addresses the realities of nursing, including scheduling, rotating weekends, and holidays. Additionally, training in emotional intelligence and personality science can help new nurses better navigate the challenges of their work environment.
  3. Invest in nursing leadership development programs and mentorship initiatives: Provide training and support for nursing leaders to help them lead with influence and impact, fostering long-term stability in nursing teams and reducing turnover.
  4. Create positive work environments: Foster a culture of teamwork, collaboration, professionalism, and respect among nurses. Address incivility, bullying, and unprofessionalism promptly.

The Nurses Feed Their Young Community Membership:

To support nurses and nursing leaders in creating a better future for the profession, Nurses Feed Their Young is launching its first membership community. This community will provide support, resources, training for leaders, networking events, and forums to discuss and develop real solutions to the serious issues facing nursing.

Join the waitlist for the Nurses Feed Their Young Exclusive Online Member Community

The nursing profession faces systemic problems in staffing, culture, and leadership. To secure the future of nursing and reduce the alarming attrition rate of new nurses, it is crucial to take action now. By implementing strategies to support and retain new nurses, investing in nursing leadership development, and fostering positive work environments, the nursing profession can move forward and create a better future. The Nurses Feed Their Young Community Membership aims to be a catalyst for this change, bringing together like-minded individuals committed to improving the profession.