We all have the same goal: We want and need to keep nurses in the nursing profession. Our nurses are burned out and dissatisfied with healthcare, inadequate staffing, high acuity, overtime and stress related to the pandemic, and they are exiting hospitals. According to NSI, 62% of hospitals are reporting higher than a 7.5% RN vacancy rate. We are all witnessing the talent war for this valued and needed professional. So, what can we do now?
Nurses enter their profession as a calling — a calling to better the lives of others, to make a difference to someone who needs care and to continuously learn and be challenged. Nurses, often independently, pursue further training and advanced degrees, seeking learning opportunities from colleagues and exploring a deeper knowledge of the etiology, techniques, and procedures to support the care of their patients and their families.
Unfortunately, nurse education has been severely impacted by the pandemic. Clinicals have been reduced, internships have decreased and many general orientations have been shortened to get more nurses at the bedside quickly. This decrease in educational opportunities has not only impacted the student nurses and new graduate nurses, but all nurses — yet equipment and procedures continue to change and evolve. Even the way we deliver care is changing (e.g. telemedicine and hospitals at home).
While Covid-19 certainly has provided a huge learning opportunity and lots of challenges, we need to continue supporting the growth of nurses how and when it is convenient for the nurse. Supporting the nursing profession’s quest for continued learning and further education does not need to only be available in a traditional classroom or an on-demand monotone CEU class but should be interactive and specific to each nurse’s individual needs. Nurses need to be able to pursue their need or desire for additional training, and having a varied methodology for delivering clinical growth helps to keep the nurse engaged and allows for a variety of learning experiences that are more self-serving and more inspiring.
Despite the pandemic, the burnout and the lack of educational options, many nurses want to continue advancing in their profession and in their knowledge, and this advancement can look different for each nurse. Nurses may be involved in hospital committees, join a professional nursing organization, obtain a specialty certification, or pursue an advanced degree. At Conexus MedStaff, we have celebrated and supported many of our international nurses as they advance their knowledge, some receiving Daisy Awards for their innovative ideas, many seeking specialty certification and some pursuing advanced degrees as a nurse practitioner or a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in nursing.
As organizations supporting our healthcare professionals, we need to dedicate the resources, time, flexibility and ability to meet the educational requirements and desires of our nurses. Through mentoring, supporting educational scholarships and engaging continuing education programs that meet the personalized needs of our healthcare professionals, we can make a difference in the nursing shortage by keeping nurses in nurses through engagement and advancement.