News | June 18, 2008

National Conference of Nursing Leaders Explores Nurse Retention Issues, Solutions

June 19, 2008 - More than 170 leaders from state nursing workforce centers throughout the nation attended a conference June 11-12 in Denver to discuss nursing workforce retention issues and the potential critical shortage of a skilled nursing workforce by the year 2010.

In a keynote address to attendees, Benjamin Isgur, assistant director of PricewaterhouseCooper’s Health and Research Institute, shared data that underscored the importance of focusing on nursing retention issues over the next several years. His findings indicated that:

- 320,000 apply for nursing school but only 145,000 are accepted.

- 78,000 graduate from nursing school, with 74,000 passing the exam.

- 30,000 stay with nursing, but after two years 50 percent have left their first job.

- Roughly 23 percent of those who wanted to be a nurse are working as a nurse.

- For the first time in decades, the total number of nurses is projected to decrease after 2010.

- Hospitals with low nurse turnover save $3.6 million annually.

- Every 1 percent increase in nurse turnover costs a hospital about $300,000 per year.

To encourage the needed changes with policy makers, educators, business leaders and others, various states have state workforce centers. Colorado’s is the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence, which hosted the conference. Mary Lou Brunell, executive director of the Florida Center for Nursing and conference chair, presented a “State of the State Workforce Centers” report at the conference.

Additional presentations included “Innovation and Promising Practices in Nursing Retention,” “The New Meaning of Retention,” “Policy Implications of Academic Nurse Residency Model,” “Creating a Technology Enhanced Work Environment,” “Evidence Based Retention Strategies for High Risk Populations,” and “Retention Practices from Across the Country.”

“Conference attendees spoke highly about the diversity and practicality of the information presented,” Brunell said. “I spoke to many, many nurses and educational leaders who were eager to apply the information to work being done in their states to better educate and support nurses throughout the career continuum.”

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