Understanding and Addressing Today’s Nursing Challenges

To address the challenges faced by the nursing profession today, it is vital that healthcare leadership first understand them. For example, nurses are not currently practicing to the top of their license due to staffing shortages we’ve been seeing. This is leading to burnout, and even leading to nurses leaving the profession.

It’s also essential to understand the internal challenges created by generational differences, with Traditionalists and Baby Boomers beginning to leave the workforce and Gen Z entering it. This contributes to our pipeline issue, exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure at the academic level to support the demand needed within facilities—this includes lack of clinical site availability, graduates desiring to go back to school for advanced degrees, and students not being well equipped for the shifts and workloads available to them.  

Leadership Strategies

Healthcare leaders can address these challenges through both recruitment and retention strategies. But first, they must: 

  • Understand that the challenge is complex, requiring creative solutions.
  • Invest in front-line leadership in a different way. 
  • Understand that pipeline development and investment are necessary. 
  • Develop both short and long-term strategies. 
  • Invest in technology to improve efficiency. 

Recruitment Strategies 

There are both short and long-term strategies your facility can implement that will help you address the problems outlined. For instance, one short-term strategy is to be quick in assessing, interviewing, and offering jobs. 

Short-Term Strategies 

The hiring process needs to be fast and efficient while also of course being carefully targeted and managed. This is just one of the things the right workforce solutions partner can help you achieve. 

  • Create a dashboard to review the progress of hiring practices. 
  • Frequently reevaluate your pay practices against your local and state competition.
  • Process for quick interview and offer for positions.

Long-Term Strategies

These include a mix of clinical experiences, academic partnerships, and internal programs. Healthcare leaders should meet with students during their clinical rotations to develop relationships, offer support through scholarship opportunities, and look at how they can start early in the high school and middle school environments.

An example of a long-term strategy involves really understanding the mindset of incoming nurses and answering a common question they have, “Will I have opportunities to progress here?” 

Retention Strategies  

The two newest generations in healthcare, Millennials and Gen Z, are looking for relationships with their managers. It’s up to healthcare leaders to cultivate these relationships to improve internal recruitment and minimize clinicians hopping from one unit to another in hopes their situation will improve.  

Front-line leaders don’t often appreciate the impact relationships have on retention, and this is where turnover happens. Here are some tips on how that can change: 

  • By Rewarding Positive Behavior vs. Coaching Negative Behavior 
  • Succession Planning  
  • By Creating Mentorship Opportunities 
  • Developing Internal Interest Groups 
  • Addressing Generational Differences 
  • Providing Growth Opportunities

Improving Work Environment and Conditions 

One final way to address the challenges nursing faces, and start improving both recruitment and retention, is by improving the overall work environment and conditions of your facility, including: 

  • Streamlining the Charting Process 
  • Encouraging All Employees to Practice at the Top of Their License 
  • Challenging the “Status Quo” and Promoting Positive Change 
  • Addressing Support Deficiencies and Frustrations Among Staff 
  • Ensuring Your Teams Have the Tools to Do Their Jobs 
  • Offering EAP and Debriefs to Support Mental Health 

“The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” may seem like only buzzwords, but these are very real challenges employers are facing, and healthcare facilities are no exception. Even prior to the pandemic, the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report predicted that by 2030, we’ll have one of the largest shortages for RNs the industry has seen. It is, therefore, important that healthcare leaders take a close look at how they’re recruiting and retaining staff.

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