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Essential strategies to support nurse recruitment and retention

Essential strategies to support nurse recruitment and retention

Recruiting and retaining nurses is top of mind for today’s nurse leaders. Burnout and lack of job satisfaction are taking their toll — 64% of nurses are stressed and 57% are exhausted. And almost 1 in 5 nurses leave their first job within the first year.1 When you consider the job struggles and high turnover rate alongside the average cost of turnover for a staff RN in 2023 ($52,350)2 , the impact is clear.

Many healthcare organizations are strengthening efforts to support and encourage nurses throughout their career journeys. They’re finding that building a culture that attracts and keeps nurses depends on helping them feel valued, managing conditions that contribute to workplace stress, and providing clear avenues for growth. Let’s look at how a multifaceted approach can make a real difference.

Elsevier hosted a virtual roundtable in which five nurse leaders and Elsevier’s clinical nurse executive, Tammy Purcell, MSN, RNCOB, shared their challenges, experiences, and strategies for nurse recruitment and retention.

Discussion participants

Recruitment and orientation

By 2025, there will be a shortage of 78,610 RNs.3 Strong hiring strategies are needed to help organizations curtail the nursing shortage today and into the future.

Nurse leaders revealed during the roundtable what they are dealing with as the biggest challenges in recruitment and orientation, including: • Competitive hiring incentives • Limited pools of candidates • Lack of hands-on experience in new graduate nurses • New grads bypassing residency/orientation to go directly into travel nursing • Underdeveloped communication skills in novice nurses

We do a year-long nurse residency program for all new grads at our hospital, where they can talk to other people, hear the same frustrations, and gain that friendship and camaraderie inside and outside of the department. -Nurse leader at non-profit healthcare system in Ohio

5 strategies for strong recruitment

To recruit new and experienced nurses, focus on what they are seeking in their careers while showcasing the unique opportunities and benefits your organization offers.

  1. Provide resources to enhance clinical skills. Evidence-based resources and tools that help nurses understand how to care for their patients are highly valuable. Ultimately, nurses need to feel empowered to deliver top quality care through timely access to clinical skills and procedures, trusted information for actionable answers, and customized continuing education, among other resources.

  2. Offer a supportive nurse residency program. Today’s new graduate nurses have little hands-on clinical experience and high anxieties around working with patients. Incorporating a nurse residency program into your hiring and orientation efforts can provide vital confidence-building opportunities for clinical exposure.

  3. Connect new nurses with strong preceptors. Experienced preceptors provide muchneeded guidance – both professionally and personally – throughout onboarding and orientation. This critical relationship gives preceptees the chance to work with seasoned and empathetic colleagues, receive feedback, and have their questions answered.

  4. Promote learning and development as part of the benefits package. With competition for nursing staff fiercer than ever, it’s important to differentiate your organization as a best-inclass place to start, develop, and advance nursing careers. Partner with your marketing team to create attractive promotional materials that highlight your learning and development (L&D) program and benefits; then collaborate with your HR team to promote L&D as part of your talent acquisition approach.

  5. Highlight career ladder and growth opportunities. As part of recruitment efforts, show how your L&D programs provide opportunities for nurses at every level and map to a fulfilling career path. Let them know that whatever their specific interests in nursing are – whether that be exploring specialties or leadership roles – your organization will provide resources and tools to support their growth and professional fulfillment.


Addressing the issues that dissatisfy nurses is important – especially for novice nurses, who are more likely to feel discouraged in their jobs. Nurses with less than 10 years of work experience say they feel less valued, supported, and hopeful.5

As the future of the profession, vulnerable new nurses need mentors, support structures, and programs designed to help reverse the trajectory of high first-year turnover rates.

From the perspective of nurse leaders, challenges in retention include:

  • Competition between local hospitals

  • Generational differences between nurses

  • A greater desire for work/life balance

  • Focusing on salary rather than complete benefits package

  • No time or space for professional development

Essential strategies to support nurse recruitment and retention

Essential strategies to support nurse recruitment and retention

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