Book Excerpt: What do nurses want?

Nurse Leader Insider, November 9, 2017

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What do nurses want? What keeps nurses engaged? What can we do to decrease turnover?

Assuming leaders know what nurses want is dangerous. Leaders should turn to the literature and evidence on recruitment and retention for the top issues but be skeptical that it is generalizable to your population of nurses as a whole. Leaders should systematically find ways to engage the clini¬cians and nurse leaders in their organization to ask, as the responses from those key stakeholders may be different from the evidence, based on many unique factors in their organizations. Contextual¬izing the interventions is important to the environment, the population, the resources, and the issues in each facility. In a recent focus group of 70 nurses from a three-time Magnet® Designated Hospital in the southwest with a 27-year history of shared governance, they identified the factors most import¬ant in retention. They are:

  • Professional/personal development
  • Sensitivity to life-work balance (develop quality-of-life initiatives [Kerfoot, 2015])
  • Shared governance—voice and impact (high autonomy associated with improved retention [Kovner, Djukic, Fatehi, Fletcher, Brewer, & Chacko])
  • Drive to continue education by organization (BSN associated with improved retention [Kovner et al.])
  • Quality of care and outcomes
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility (adapt) of care
  • High levels of collaboration (interprofessional)
  • Loyalty to employees—take care of employees
  • Residency program (transition to practice)
  • Attention to detail (compliance) and ethics
  • Diversity and inclusion (modeling of caring behaviors)
  • Innovation supported—evidence-based practice
  • Approachable MD colleagues (respect) (positive relationships with physician improves retention [Kovner et al.])
  • Safety (education) skills

To learn more about recruiting and retaining nurses, check out our newly released Nurse Managers’ Guide to Recruitment and Retention, which provides sound theoretical perspectives, evidence-based practices, practical strategies, and tools for achieving the best recruitment, engagement, and retention outcomes.


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