Learning a lesson from nurse recruitment and retention

Nurses’ demands focus on working conditions, flexibility, not dollars – so says a Washington Post article (Saturday, Sept 13, 2008). Why share this article about nursing in a blog about associations?

It was a sentence in paragraph three that caught my eye: “Hospitals increasingly are responding with a new recruitment and retention strategy — giving nurses like Dimmick much more say in their patients’ care.”

When the nursing shortage began to rear its ugly head some five years ago, hospitals responded with huge signing bonuses and perks like sport-utility vehicles and vacations. Quickly they discovered those efforts brought nurses in but didn’t keep them. Turnover was still a big problem. Sound familiar? Attract new members with discounts and affinity programs that save members’ money only to then have to redouble the effort at renewal time.

As the article notes, many nurses want better working conditions more than they do extra money. So hospitals are now focusing there. The article shares how Inova Fairfax Hospital is giving nurses more authority. Others are introducing technology to reduce paperwork, offering more flexible hours, reducing caseloads, and paying for advanced training.

What can associations offer along those lines – the real value?

One additional aha, a nurse Jennifer Dimmick interviewed for the article said “Autonomy is a big thing. It’s important for me to know that what I do matters.” This should also sound familiar – many of our member volunteers are saying the same thing to us.

There are obvious implications for us in our overall marketing and perhaps less obvious lessons for our chapter relationship program. What if we gave chapters more authority, greater flexibility, technology that reduced paperwork and administrative burden, and helped cover costs for great educational programming? Then market to members that you meet their needs on their home turf, nationally and globally. What if …