After hiring new nurse grads- The calm before the storm

As a healthcare workforce director, I am experiencing the calming effect of what we call the new grad season and so is the entire healthcare industry.

After new grads are onboarded in May and June of each year, hospitals are hit with an influx of new nursing graduates that fill their open nursing positions. The need for nurses that was imperative for my clients earlier in the year, has now shifted to a mild or low priority issue.

Cyclically, we see this every year: the façade that every nursing position is filled and the staffing level is healthy enough to meet patient demand. But as we near October, the bliss of a full nursing staff levels off and new grad season transitions out. The sense of urgency to fill critical nursing positions will resurface and the inevitable storm of an understaffed unit will set in along with the realization of the need for more experienced staff. There are many reasons that this new grad season effect is temporary and fleeting. It’s important to consider the following when new grad season takes effect.

Low retention rates of new nurses
Your new grad hires are not staying put long. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nearly 20 percent of nurses leave the profession entirely during their first year; another one in three is gone within two years. We see this all too often with clients hiring new nurses. A contributing factor for this low retention rate is nurse burnout. In a study done by Nursing Economics, they found that 93 percent of the nurses surveyed would leave the profession due to the increasing stress the shortage would place on their work-life balance.

Nurses are retiring from the profession
Hospitals are also experiencing higher turnover rates with their long-term nurses as they prepare to retire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 700,000 nurses are projected to retire or leave the labor force by 2024. When you have your long-term nurses leaving to retire and your new nurses leaving to pursue other career interests, you will need to have a safety net available.

Your patient base is expanding
Baby boomers are one of the largest demographics making up 20 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As this population ages, the demand for health-care services will sky rocket. Your staff will need to expand to meet patient needs.

There is a Continuing Shortage
At the bottom line, even in moments of comfort, the nurse shortage is real and it’s the result of all the contributing factors listed above. This shortage is expected to continue through 2030 and it’s important to plan for these shortcomings that it effects, such as patient care and healthy staffing levels. Do not let the temporary effect of new grad season catch you in a storm without a backup plan.

About the author: Jane Walleyn has over 25 years of managerial experience in the healthcare staffing industry and has been matching healthcare professionals to hospitals around the U.S. in every specialty. She is currently the National Workforce Director at Avant Healthcare Professionals.

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