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November 15, 2023

Nurse Retention Best Practices: A Guide to Reducing Nurse Turnover


Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

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The healthcare industry faces a pressing issue: a staggering rise in nurse turnover rates and a shortage of experienced nursing professionals. 

My American Nurse found that 43% of newly licensed nurses who work in hospitals leave their jobs within 3 years, another 33.5% resign after 2 years, and 17.5% work for only 1 year. These are stark numbers. What is the solution?

This blog will explore the significance of retaining nurses, its implications for organizational and financial performance, practical strategies that healthcare facilities and nursing leaders can employ to improve nurse retention rates, and how to effectively hire nurses and keep them around.

Why is nurse retention important?

Nurse retention is crucial for maintaining team cohesion, morale, and employee engagement in any field. In the nursing profession, it becomes even more vital due to the nursing shortage and high turnover rates. The AACN predicts that the US will face up to 450,000 nursing vacancies by 2025. Retaining experienced nurses is essential for patient care and safety, as high turnover rates can disrupt healthcare organizations and compromise outcomes. Implementing effective retention strategies, providing professional development opportunities, and addressing challenges faced by nurses are essential for reducing turnover and ensuring quality care.

What are the consequences of nurse turnover?

Nurse turnover has far-reaching consequences that impact both healthcare organizations and patients. When nurses leave their positions, it disrupts the continuity of care, leading to potential gaps in patient safety and quality of care. 

Additionally, nurse turnover results in increased workload for the remaining staff, leading to burnout and decreased job satisfaction. The financial implications of nurse turnover are also significant, as organizations incur costs related to recruitment, onboarding, and training of new nurses. Moreover, high turnover rates can tarnish the reputation of healthcare organizations and make it challenging to attract and retain experienced nurses. 

All of these consequences highlight the urgent need for effective nurse retention strategies.

How is nurse turnover affecting the organizational and financial performance of your organization?

Nurse turnover can have a significant impact on the organizational and financial performance of healthcare organizations. It is crucial for healthcare leaders to understand the implications of nurse turnover and the potential costs associated with it. According to a report by Becker's Hospital Review, the average cost of turnover for a bedside registered nurse (RN) is approximately $40,038, with a range between $28,400 to $51,700. This staggering cost highlights hospitals' substantial financial burden when experienced nurses leave their positions.

In a larger context, these costs translate into substantial financial losses for healthcare facilities. Becker's Hospital Review also estimates that hospitals can lose anywhere between $3.6 million to $6.5 million per year due to nurse turnover. It is important to note that these figures vary based on different factors, including the size and location of the healthcare organization. Regardless, the impact is clear - nurse turnover significantly impacts healthcare facilities' financial stability.

Moreover, the impact of nurse turnover extends beyond just the negative financial impact. Each percent change in RN turnover can cost or save the average hospital an estimated $270,800 per year.

This emphasizes the importance of nurse retention strategies as even a slight reduction in turnover rates can positively affect the organization's financial performance. By investing in nurse retention initiatives, hospitals have the potential to improve their financial standing and create a more stable work environment for their nursing staff.

How can facilities improve nurse retention?

To improve nurse retention, facilities can implement the following strategies:

1. Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits Packages: Competitive salaries, performance bonuses, and comprehensive healthcare coverage are essential to attract and retain nursing talent. Recognizing the value of nurses and compensating them accordingly goes a long way in securing their commitment.

2. Provide Opportunities for Professional Growth and Development: Creating pathways for nurses to grow in their careers is crucial. Establishing continuing education programs, implementing mentorship initiatives, and offering clear career advancement opportunities can keep nurses engaged and motivated. Professional development is critical to quality patient and organizational outcomes. 

One way to implement professional development is through the use of immersive virtual reality, which enables nurses to train in a setting with psychological safety. UbiSim is currently being used at Boston Children's Hospital for ongoing training.
Read the whole BCH case study here!

3. Create a Positive Work Environment: A nurturing work culture is essential for nurse retention. Promote a culture of collaboration, respect, and support among the nursing team. Encourage open communication, recognize and appreciate nurses' contributions, and address their concerns effectively.

4. Address Nurse Burnout: Burnout is a significant concern in the nursing profession. Implement policies that prioritize work-life balance, ensure adequate staffing levels to prevent excessive workloads, and provide mental health support to help nurses cope with the demands of their roles.

5. Prioritize Patient Safety and Outcomes: Ensuring patient safety and positive outcomes should be at the forefront. Create a culture of patient safety within the organization, implement evidence-based practices, and foster interdisciplinary teamwork among healthcare professionals to provide the best care possible.

6. Foster Strong Nurse Leadership: Engaging with the nursing team and valuing their input is essential. Strong nurse leadership involves providing opportunities for feedback, input, and professional growth. When nurses feel valued and supported by their leaders, they are more likely to remain committed to their organization.

By implementing these strategies, facilities can enhance nurse retention rates and create a supportive work environment for their nursing staff.

How can leaders in nursing help with retention?

Leaders in nursing play a crucial role in nurse retention. They can help by prioritizing nurse engagement, implementing comprehensive retention strategies, offering professional development opportunities, and emphasizing patient safety. By doing so, leaders create a positive work environment that fosters job satisfaction and reduces turnover rates.

How can healthcare organizations recruit nurses effectively?

One of the most pressing challenges that healthcare organizations face today is the effective recruitment of nurses. As the demand for quality healthcare continues to grow, it is crucial for organizations to develop strategies that attract and retain skilled nursing professionals.

1. Create an Enticing Work Environment: Foster a positive organizational culture that values collaboration, open communication, and respect. A supportive work environment promotes job satisfaction and a sense of belonging.

2. Provide Competitive Salaries and Benefits: Offer attractive compensation packages, performance incentives, and comprehensive healthcare coverage to demonstrate the organization's commitment to recognizing the value of its nursing staff.

3. Offer Incentives: Attract and retain nursing talent by providing incentives such as sign-on bonuses, tuition reimbursement programs to support further education, and flexible scheduling options that accommodate nurses' diverse needs and lifestyles.

4. Collaborate with Educational Institutions: Establish partnerships and affiliations with nursing schools, colleges, and universities to facilitate a steady influx of aspiring nurses into the workforce. Create opportunities for internships, clinical rotations, and mentorship programs to bridge the gap between education and practice.

5. Promote a Culture of Support and Recognition: Encourage a culture that values and recognizes nurses' achievements and contributions, both formally and informally. This reinforcement fosters a sense of value within the organization and encourages nurses to stay and grow within their roles.


Addressing nurse turnover is vital for healthcare organizations' stability, patient care, and financial health. These efforts not only secure our healthcare future but also honor the dedication of nurses who form the core of our industry. Together, we can ensure quality care, nurse satisfaction, and a stronger healthcare system. 

Interested in trying UbiSim in your healthcare institution?
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Ginelle Testa
UbiSim Story Teller

As an integral center of UbiSim's content team, Ginelle pens stories on the rapidly changing landscape of VR in nursing simulation. Ginelle is committed to elevating the voices of practicing nurses, nurse educators, and program leaders who are making a difference.

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