Open communication is key to retaining nurses, CNO says

For Rhonda Thompson, DNP, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of patient care services at Phoenix Children's Hospital, tackling ongoing nursing challenges like labor shortage and workforce wellbeing starts with one simple task: communication. 

A recent report from AMN Healthcare said that a survey of more than 1,150 nurses found that 35% are "extremely likely" to leave their jobs in 2024. 

To help retain nurses, Dr. Thompson told Becker's she urges healthcare leaders to let go of what's worked in the past and to find creative new ways to develop a positive, long-lasting work environment for nurses.

"I really do think we need to make a concerted effort to ensure that our employees, it's not just nursing, anyone in healthcare, are being cared for," she said. "Fostering an open communication. Providing resources for their professional development, that's incredibly important for this workforce."

Phoenix Children's has also added trauma informed care education to its nurse residency program for people to understand their own trauma and learn how to cope.

In an effort to lead by example, Dr. Thompson also suggested that healthcare leaders hold frequent open forums with employees to hear their direct needs regularly, so that they can be addressed. 

"Ensuring that we're meeting the needs around their own development, which means meeting with them frequently, having conversations about their needs, and then being transparent with what you can currently provide, and what may be on the horizon. They want to know what's happening."

From a recruitment standpoint, Phoenix Children's Hospital is entering its fifth year of partnership with Tempe, Ariz.-based Arizona State University. The partnership has allowed ASU students in their third and fourth year of nursing to do between 50% to 100% of their clinicals at Phoenix Children's, with the hospital hiring around 90% of the students.

Regardless of whether you are in a rural or urban area, Dr. Thompson encouraged other leaders to develop strong partnerships with not just nursing schools and universities, but even high schools, to ensure students are provided with the tools they need to be successful post-graduation.

"It's talking to them even as a freshman in high school because that's a really pivotal time for them," she said. "They're making a decision, potentially about what they might do from a profession and career perspective. It's having those early conversations and introducing them."

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