4 Tips for Retaining Nurses Who Work Past Retirement

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , October 18, 2011

3.      Be Mindful of Physical Limitations

Retention efforts must also pay attention to the physical needs of an older workforce. Safe lifting programs become paramount to retain older nurses, but also reap benefits for all staff. As the obesity epidemic continues, all caregivers need education about safe patient handling and lifting as well as the availability of assistance when needed.

Another effort that is essential for older nurses but that also benefits everyone is reducing the number of steps nurses take each day. Studies with nurses wearing pedometers show that many staff walk miles each day doing tasks such as hunting supplies or retrieving wheelchairs that needless take them away from patients' bedsides. Locating supplies closer to where nurses work, educating pharmacy staff about the effects on patient care when nurses have to chase down medication, and equipping nurses with cell phones can all reduce unnecessary walking and increase the time nurses spend with patients.

4.      Reap the Benefits of Experience

Having older nurses remain in the workforce means you can continue to benefit from their years of experience and wisdom. Use it wisely and you provide them with new challenges for their professional development. Create shift options that include project work or quality improvement efforts. Pair them with new graduate nurses in buddy programs.

Preceptors have to focus on the checking off competencies and ensuring new nurses are clinically competent. Buddy nurses can spend more time on sharing experiences and can just mentor, encourage, commiserate, and inspire.

With a little advance planning, these easy-to-implement programs make continuing working into retirement years a more attractive prospect.

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