Merely increasing the supply of nurses won’t solve the shortage because too many nurses—in some hospitals between 20 and 50 percent— leave within just a few years.The country now has more hospital nurses age 50 and over than 35 and younger—the prime working years.
The current generation of younger workers have many more professional options than older nurse at their age, and they aren’t going to put up with excessive workloads and bad hours; they will also want to feel like real stakeholders in the success of their organizations.
Many employer human resources policies date back to the 1960s, offering inadequate pension systems for nurses and sanctioning mandatory overtime; 85 percent of nurses work beyond their scheduled shifts. Policies need to be revised to introduce reasonable work rules linked to patient safety.
The data on the high turnover rate clearly told us that something is wrong—probably many things—in the hospital work environment: A hospitalmust be healthy in three dimensions:
• physical space
• work processes and policies
• organizational culture
All three are essential, though culture—the tone and expectations set by management, its receptivity to innovation, the respect it gives workers of all disciplines—comes first