Nursing

Tips from BESD: Recruitment and retention: Combating the nurse shortage

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 9, 2010

The recent economic downturn will have lasting effects, and the recession, which officially started in December 2007, has affected the job market.

Picture the current state of the nursing shortage as a tsunami. The first thing that happens in a tsunami is that the water on the beach rushes away from the shore. Nurses are filling current vacant positions en mass. Nurses who had planned to retire, work only part-time, or reduce their hours find they have had to change their plans. They are staying and taking on full-time, rather than part-time, positions (Buerhaus, 2009). "As RN spouses lost their jobs (70% of RNs are married) or worried that they might be laid off, many non-working RNs rejoined the workforce" (Buerhaus).

With RN vacancies being filled at an exceptional rate, organizations might have an urge to ease their recruitment and retention efforts. This is exactly the wrong strategy to take. As the economy begins to adjust, the tidal wave will hit. The impact of the tsunami wave depends on how quickly the economy recovers. If the economy recovers quickly, jobs will be rapidly added back to the market. Many nurses who had to come back to work or work more hours to supplement the family income will leave the job market (Buerhaus). Nurses who postponed retirement may stay in the market a little longer than anticipated to rebuild their retirement incomes, but they will also leave (Buerhaus).

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the April 2010 issue of Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development.

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