Shortage of nurses led to a high patient-nurse ratio, over workload on nurses, nurse burnout, poor patient care, and financial loss to hospitals.

In the year 2021, the shortage of nurses forced Syracuse university hospital, New York to temporarily close 124 beds. 

How to combat this nursing shortage? The answer is to retain the old one.

It is high time for hospitals to consider focusing on retaining nurses rather than recruiting new ones. Because it takes a great time to find suitable nurses and recruit them. 

And this is one of the major causes of the shortage of nurses. 

And that’s why hospitals should implement some of the most effective nurse retention strategies. 

Read How to improve nurse retention rate to know about what is the nurse retention rate, and the causes of nurse turnover.

In this blog, we are going to discuss some practical and evidence-based strategies to retain nurses that will help you to lower nurse turnover and increase nurse retention.

Best 10 Effective Nurse Retention Strategies

One of the very basic requirements of retaining nurses is caring for them, respecting them, and recognizing their efforts.  For retaining the nurses, you should treat the nurse the way you want them to treat your patients.  

However, here are some basic yet effective retention ideas for nurses.

1) Use exit interviews

Taking feedback frequently from the employee helps you to improve workplace culture and many other things. One such feedback you can take is during exit interviews. 

When the person is about to leave, arranging an exit interview and encouraging them to give honest feedback will help you to understand why they are leaving.

These exit interviews are not meant to change their mind, but to know their reasons for leaving the organization.

Their feedback helps you to identify the areas that need improvement and thus helps you retain other staff and lower nurse turnover.


2) Anticipate burnout

Nurses are often overworked and overstressed. The shortage of nurses was already a burning issue long before the pandemic. The pandemic worsened it.

The uncontrolled amount of patients and the fear of getting infected urged many nurses to leave the hospital. 

This caused a high patient-nurse ratio. This amplified the workload and stress among nurses. Despite this, nurses willingly perform their duties and even go the extra mile to serve the patients and save their lives.

The most disheartening thing for them is not the high number of patients or higher workload load, but it is lack of appreciation from the seniors and management.

When they fail to receive appreciation for the efforts they put in, they feel discontentment which leads them to experience burnout. 

The solution to this problem is to offer enough chances for nurses to share any discontent and offer solutions to improve their work satisfaction and resilience. 

Another way to improve employee satisfaction is by improving facilities’ workflow process by implementing a long-term care EHR software system. 

These systems automate administrative duties and replace time-consuming paperwork with help of more efficient electronic tools and save hundreds of hours for nurses.

3) Acknowledge nurse contribution

Appreciating is the most motivating factor for every professional and nurses are no different.

Appreciation confirms that they are on the right path, and all their efforts and sacrifices are rewarding, and that makes them go the extra mile.

At the same time when nurses are not appreciated or acknowledged they slowly start taking things for granted, and they lose enthusiasm and willingness to work for the facility.

That’s why it’s so important to appreciate your nurses with a variety of gestures, by sending them flowers, thank you notes, giving pay rise, etc. This way they will feel valued, and satisfied. Satisfied nurses don’t leave.

4) Provide some downtime

Nursing profession is highly stressful with high patient-to-nurse ratios, limited budget, and insufficient resources. They hardly get some time to sit or even have food peacefully during the shifts.

All these take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being and impact their productivity negatively.

The key to overcoming this problem is to let the nurses take some time off. For this, facilities can provide renewal rooms, where nurses can take short breaks. Such facilities provide nurses an ambient and tranquil environment that helps nurses to destress themselves.

You can also conduct meditation and yoga sessions to teach nurses effective meditation techniques to manage their stress and emotions.

5) Mentoring

Nurses stay at the facility for a longer time when they get enough support from their superiors and peers and are satisfied with their work and the results they deliver.

For this, new nurses should be able to get some training or mentoring from experienced nurses.

Mentoring and coaching help hospitals maintain consistent quality care for all patients.

Moreover, mentoring relationships improve communication between new and experienced nurses which aids in coaching, teaching, and role modeling. This fosters the nurse’s progression and professional development.

6) Provide mental health resources

Nurses work at your place for a longer time, if they feel that you care for them.

And for that you must show them you care for them in a variety of ways, one of which is providing them with mental health resources. 

Mental health is of utmost importance for nurses. From ensuring that patients receive the right medications to updating doctors about patient status to managing their family members, nurses’ plates are always full.

Often they have to do night shifts and overtime.

Doing this for a prolonged period of time he was overwhelmed, stressed, and mentally exhausted.

To help nurses combat these issues, hospital management should come forward and take the initiative to help them.

They should provide some mental health resources like offering them free or subsidized therapy sessions, letting them take breaks, etc. This will help them to avoid burnout and you to maintain a good work culture.

7) Create a comprehensive onboarding process

Like an employee’s first impression matters to you, your first impression also matters a lot for employees’ outlook.

While introducing your employees to their roles and responsibilities, you should also emphasize the workplace culture and environment, and ethics they want every nurse to possess.

Nurses remain longer at the workplace when they get support from their peers. And that’s why fostering a supportive work environment impacts the employee retention rate positively.

8) Update nurses about internal organizational changes

One of the ways to develop leadership qualities in nurses is to consider their feedback, make changes accordingly, and update them about this.

Nurses want to be considered in key decision-making, and that’s why when changes are underway, ensure that management takes time to address all questions, and concerns, and update nurses. This nurse retention strategy gives them a  sense of trust and belonging.

9) Establish hiring standards for behavior competencies

Considering soft skills along with technical skills at the time of hiring is the best strategy of nurse retention and will make a big difference.

Along with qualifications and experience, you should also check certain qualities like compassion, patience, teamwork, problem-solving skills, etc

These characteristics would help nurses to sustain in difficult situations and will work for a longer period of time at your place.

10) Choose an effective preceptor

Choose a nurse preceptor wisely for new nurses.

An effective preceptor helps the new nurses in proving collaboration, giving constructive feedback, giving emotional support, and modeling the professional behavior nurse leaders expect at the bedside.

This ensures job satisfaction and improves retention. A nurse preceptor should be encouraging enough,  and develop new nurses clinically.


Nurse retention is the demand of today’s time. It is necessary to lower the hiring cost and continue providing the best quality patient care.

Following the above-mentioned nurse retention strategies will help you to lower the turnover rate and improve retention.

People Also Asked On Retaining Nurse Strategies

Why it is important to retain nurses?

Retaining nurses promote a better work environment and culture since nurses regularly collaborate with other tenured staff members.

Retention makes the employees trust the companies.

How to calculate the nurse retention rate?

The nurse retention rate can be calculated by dividing the number of present nurses divided by the total number of nurses you started with multiplied by 100.

What is the nurse retention rate?

Nurse retention refers to the rate at which nurses remain in their current position.