Research tells us that 18% of new nurses will leave their jobs or even leave nursing all together. When we first talked with Bonnie Schrock (who at the time was Baptist Health’s chief operating officer), we weren’t sure what to expect from participating with training of first year nurses to help improve retention. We knew from research that there are proven factors that make families and individuals strong and healthy. As we looked at the five factors that make up the framework we utilize for our work, we realized that these same factors, placed in a nursing specific scenario, were also important for nurses to feel confident and have a sense of belonging within the medical setting.
Resilience, that ability to bounce back from difficulties, was a simple translation to nursing. Nurses needed to be able to feel confident and positive after stressful situations.
Within research for nurse retention, we found information about how important relationships were. Peer-to-peer relationships, as well as those with mentors, were important. But supportive connections with friends, neighbors and the community were also vital to feeling healthy and whole and remaining in the nursing field.
Making sure that nurses had their basic needs met both in and out of the workplace and had assistance to identify and receive concrete support in times of need was valuable.
Seeking and acquiring the skills they need to perform at their best is what any good nurse needs. Solving problems and having support and training is necessary.
Nurses need to have communication skills. Being self-aware and able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, co-workers, and others is relevant.
As we brought first year nurses to the table with experienced nurses, we witnessed some powerful moments. Those experienced nurses became part of the support network the new nurses needed. Seeing familiar faces in the halls of the workplace helped first year nurses to feel like they belonged within the hospital system. We also had moments when nurses were able to talk about what systems were working or needed improvement. We identified places for changes to be made, which not only enhanced the daily work environment and systems for new nurses, but also for other employees. Because the hospital was able to integrate these needed changes, new nurses felt seen and heard and valued.
A strong community has at it’s center a strong public health component and this work really brought this to the attention of us all. Facilitating these trainings and listening sessions produced calculable changes of improved resiliency skills and resulted in nearly 18% less turn over among first year nurses. This kind of numeric proof of our work reinforced our commitment to continuing to work in our community to see positive change. Each individual who finds strength and belonging within our community, bolsters the entire community.