In part because of these efforts, more millennials and men are entering nursing; about 11% of nurses are now men. Yet the fact remains that internal referrals are still the main way nursing leaders find experienced talent. “Word of mouth is critical in the nursing community,” says Alanna Conte, a senior principal with Korn Ferry who specializes in the healthcare industry.
While organizations are focusing their talent development efforts around creating demand, Conte says more work can be done to improve retention. In nursing, as in every other profession, “the skill sets of managers are most critical to retention and have a direct impact on nurse engagement,” she says. Nurses are often promoted into management or other leadership positions without the proper experience and frequently with little to no training or support. But that is starting to change, says Conte, with training offered to nurses in business, digital, finance, management, and other areas outside of clinical development to help enhance the leadership pipeline. “We are starting to see more healthcare organizations develop a learning culture, with cross-discipline training programs being used to develop nurses,” she says.
The reasons nurses cite for leaving the profession are not uncommon: lack of growth and development opportunities, lack of recognition, better pay, and better work-life balance, among them. But the fact that roughly a million nurses are expected to retire in the coming years adds a layer of complexity to retention efforts. Keeping experienced nurses as long as possible is a priority not just for staffing but also for training and knowledge transfer. Organizations are exploring ways to remake roles and responsibilities for aging nurses that include retention bonuses, decreasing the hours and number of workdays, offering opportunities to use their experience in other roles like community engagement and patient education, and even better desks and chairs for ergonomic support.
Robyn Begley, DNP, RN, who was named CEO of the American Organization for Nurse Leadership last September, says one of the challenges that hospitals and health systems experience in retaining experienced nurses and developing nurse leaders is the growing number of options for nurses today. Nurses work in many capacities along the care continuum, including with government, education, and industry. “New opportunities are putting pressure on the talent pipeline because nurses are moving through the system faster,” says Begley, citing as an example clinical nurses who leave the hospital setting to work with engineers at start-ups to develop digital nursing tools. She says the best way to keep the talent pipeline strong is by developing highly engaged, inclusive, diverse nurse leaders.
Cedars-Sinai’s Marshall is one of those leaders. Marshall entered the profession in the 1980s, when cultural attitudes toward male nurses were less evolved than they are today. To use Marshall’s words, “Nursing remains a good profession that offers steady growth, good pay, and the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.”
For more information, please contact Tom Flannery at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kae Robertson at email@example.com or Alanna Conte at firstname.lastname@example.org.