How a Good Night's Sleep Can Aid New Graduate Nurse Retention

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , January 12, 2010

As Burnette listened to the new grads' fears, she realized this issue was an important part of the transition for new nurses, so she started offering strategies to help them sleep better. She also began measuring their perception of sleep and how it relates to performance. She soon realized there was an opportunity to make the program more structured and provide more benefits to nurses.

Burnette worked with new graduates and leadership to design a program, researching sleep literature—utilizing the National Sleep Foundation as her educational model—best practices, and even consulting the organization's sleep lab for ideas. The result was a formal class offered as part of the new nurse graduate program.

Burnette delivers a PowerPoint presentation that explains why sleep is important and the effect it has if nurses do not receive sufficient restorative sleep. Each new grad receives a sleep kit that contains ear plugs (which block out up to 31 decibels) and an eye mask, which nurses have reported have improved their sleep tremendously.

Burnette ensures her program helps new grads and tracks the results over time by having new grads take an online Pulse Check survey, which measures key areas of practice. This survey includes two metrics that examine the effect of night shift on nurses, asks about their perception of sleep and performance, and also tracks the data over time.

She is continuing to examine the effect of night shift on nurses, their perception of their sleep, and how it relates to performance. The ongoing data should be most revealing, but Burnette already has enough anecdotal data to demonstrate her course improves quality of life for her new nurse graduates.

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Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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