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5 Ways to Retain New Graduate Nurses

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, July 5, 2011

Hospitals across the country are welcoming recently graduated nurses to their units and hoping to turn them into competent, confident nurses as quickly as possible.

New nurses have a difficult time bridging the gap from nursing school to practice and hospitals must recognize this difficult transition if they hope to keep the nurses for the long term. Here are five strategies that help new graduates through the transition and ensure that they are engaged, long-term employees.

1. Provide a competency-based orientation.

Once new graduates have completed general, organization-wide orientation, they are sent to their units and start learning how to be a nurse in their new world. Making every new nurse go through the same orientation is a bad idea. It's a waste of time to train nurses how to do something that isn't relevant to their specific job and a waste of resources to send nurses to classes they don't need. Yet many organizations do exactly that.

One-size-fits-all nurse orientation takes longer and is less effective at on-boarding new nurses. Effective orientations are based on competency assessment and personalized to nurses' individual training and development needs. Customizing training and development to graduate nurses' needs creates engaged employees and allows managers to allocate financial resources appropriately, rather than sending every employee to every class.

2. Offer a nurse residency program.

If you don't have a nurse residency program, start one. They are much more than orientation. The best programs run throughout new graduates' first year of practice and support them through the difficult transition shock and various phases of competence. The programs give new nurses the tools to become competent practitioners.

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9 comments on "5 Ways to Retain New Graduate Nurses"


INSCOL Academy (8/9/2013 at 8:31 AM)
Hi Cgilmart Thanks for sharing timely post. Nurses have the potential to make a huge impact, and We should encourage others to make the lea-pare of in the same way.

Leslie Ann Rodriguez (10/31/2012 at 11:41 AM)
Hi CG! What hospital you work in that hires new grad nurses? I'm still trying to find a hospital in NY that will accept a new grad. Any suggestions? (Montefiore and NY Presbyterian are impossible - tried for months)

CG (7/7/2011 at 9:41 AM)
I work at a hospital that does all these things. If you don't, perhaps its time to look for a place that does this. We provide individualized competency based orientations for nurses so if you're experienced, you won't sit through 4 hrs of IV training, etc. We do hire new grads and have a certified nurse residency program. Why should only doctors have time to practice their educational preparation in such a complicated field and nurses don't. I agree that its short sighted if hospitals don't hire new grads. We all had to start somewhere as a new grad. There are hospitals in my city that don't hire new grads- its their loss and our gain. These grads are fresh and ready to start their careers, let's help them love what they've invested their heart in and nurture them to give great patient care. They will be taking care of us one day, let's train them right! As the majority of nurses are women, we must stop the cycle of abuse sometimes given by seasoned nurses and doctors. This harms the patient, which is why they come into a hospital- to get great nursing care.