Tips from TSE: New grad program boosts retention, recruitment

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 21, 2008

From the ICU to pediatrics to the operating room, the choices available to new graduate nurses are exciting and daunting. Often, a new nurse is unsure of his or her penchant or comes in with a predetermined preference only to find the unit may not be a good fit. St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, FL, has boosted its retention and recruitment rates with a new graduate program, which strives to find the right unit for its new nurses.

In the past, a new graduate would come to the hospital with a specialty in mind, but after working in the unit for a few weeks, might find that it's not a good fit for them, says Walter Page Young, RN, BSN, CEN, education specialist of clinical education. But hospital rules required new nurses to stick it out for six months before transferring to another unit. Many unhappy nurses weren't willing to wait that long.

That all changed in 2003, when the hospital began a new graduate program that puts the clinical educators in charge of not only orienting but placing the new graduate in the right hospital unit. During a nurse's two week orientation, the clinical educator will evaluate:

  • The new graduate's interests
  • The new graduate's personality
  • The new graduate's background

These criteria will help the clinical educator decide what unit will be a good fit for the graduate, Young says. "The nurse will tell me, 'I have an interest in cardiology,' so I'll set them up," says Young. "And then at such a time that the intern decides they either like it or they don't like it, they let me know."

The retention rate of new graduates and the hospital's ability to recruit top candidates speaks volumes about the program. Retention rates are between 80% and 90%, Young says, and last year, the hospital hired 250 new graduate nurses.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the November issue of The Staff Educator. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to The Staff Educator!


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