Report reveals turnover woes, first-year staff retention tips

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Healthcare is one of the few industries not lacking in available jobs during this epic economic slump. Unfortunately, it's also one of the few industries that's having a very hard time keeping them filled.

Nowhere is this more evident than in long-term care, which is facing annual turnover rates for nursing assistants and nurses of 71% and 49%, respectively, according to LeadingAge.

While the issue may be old hat, a recent report by PwC Saratoga (the workforce research arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) adds a newfound sense of urgency to the retention problem across healthcare. In its “Human Capital Effectiveness Benchmarking Report,” the firm found that first-year nursing turnover can run as high as 60% in some of the 40 healthcare systems it studied. The median first-year turnover was 17.1% for the report's “best practices” health systems, according to a report from HealthLeaders Media.

In a statement issued earlier this year, AHCA echoed the findings in a National Commission of Quality Long-Term Care report, which concluded that the long-term care workforce needs to grow by 2% per year–to the tune of 4 million new workers–by 2050.

Based on current trends, however, that isn't likely. PwC Saratoga offers the following strategies as a means for a turnover turnaround:

• Schedule competency-based interview processes/selection testing, including cultural fit.
• Build relationships with nursing schools and a robust nurse resident program.
• Conduct extensive orientation followed by employee feedback.
• Implement new-hire support programs.
• Track and measure criteria that drive accountability.

Both LeadingAge and AHCA recently have offered solutions that incorporate some of these strategies. AHCA, for example, recently proposed development opportunities and the availability of workforce grants, as well as amending the Nurse Reinvestment Act (NRA) by permanently removing the exclusion of loan repayments for nurses working in for-profit health care settings. LeadingAge is developing a host of recommendations.

Please send your nursing-related questions for Anne Marie Barnett at


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