4-time Magnet-certified system weighs in on what keeps nurses around

Four-time Magnet-certified El Camino Health in Mountain View and Los Gatos, Calif., has achieved a turnover rate of just 8 percent for its nurses, even in the midst of a nationwide nurse shortage, according to Cheryl Reinking, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer at El Camino Health. 

El Camino's low turnover rate is noteworthy as the profession's national turnover rate sits around 22.5 percent, according to a 2023 report.

To achieve this, the California health facility has implemented multiple retention efforts ranging from flexible scheduling and workflow improvement to professional development opportunities for nurses — including offering new nurses a chance to work with seasoned nurse mentors on projects that target ideas for process improvement and patient outcomes.

The Magnet certification guidelines are really what have guided it to success, Dr. Reinking told Becker's. El Camino Health was first given Magnet certification in 2005 and was recertified in 2010, 2015 and 2021. It's also looking to submit for recertification within the next year or so for its fifth time. "We've created structures and processes so that nurses have a voice in their practice, and the creation of those structures and processes is really by adhering to the ANCC Magnet principles. These principles are really based in evidence," Dr. Reinking said. "We know if nurses have a voice in their practice and if they have autonomy in their practice that they have great relationships with their interprofessional colleagues. It makes them want to stay and continue to practice at the organization where they feel these things are in place."

Among the structures and processes in place to support current and prospective nurses at El Camino Health are a popular nurse residency program of which 400 applicants typically compete for 14 spots; a Lantern Award-winning training program for those who want to pursue a career pathway as an emergency room nurse; and council for every nursing department. 

"We have a very mature, shared governance, process and structure here at El Camino where every single nursing department has a council made up of direct care nurses and other ancillary staff, where they can bring concerns forward, and they work together as a team with their manager to solve problems on their unit," Dr. Reinking said. "Not only that, we actually have a council that oversees the entire organization. There's a nursing representative from every unit and I sit on that council as well. This is where we talk about issues for the organization and nursing practice as a whole; how can we improve our entire nursing practice environment?" Its retention efforts also extend to new nurses, with a 92 percent retention rate for its new graduate nurses. 

"It's really fascinating to really understand how important it is for this generation of new Gen Z nurse graduates to learn and grow quickly," she said. "They want to know where they're going. They may be starting in one place in the hospital, but very quickly, they want to know their pathway to get to their goal. If they start as a medical-surgical nurse, they want to know, 'How do I get to become a critical care nurse in three years?' That's the other thing that we're working on. We're thinking about how do we ensure that we create this plan for these new nurses to get to their goal in the amount of time they hope to — and do it so that they have milestones along the way, and know what they need to achieve and stay motivated to get there."

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