5 ways Inova Health attracts and retains nurses

The Chief Executive Officer of Inova Health Nurse offers long-term steps to recruit and retain nurses.

During the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses faced a critical shortage of staff when nurses were most needed, with one study showing that 62.5% of CNEs surveyed did not have with adequate nursing staff, and 79.1% had experienced high turnover of nurses.

Now that the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us, along with the fight for nurses, some health organizations are taking longer-term steps to attract and retain nurses.

Inova Health, the largest nonprofit health provider in Northern Virginia, has set up several such programs, said Maureen Sintic, DNP, MBA, RN, WHNP-BC, NEA-BC, chief executive officer and executive vice president of Inova.

Here are five of them:

1. Leaders must be visible

As the shortage of nurses worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, Inova Health nurses’ trainers and clinical managers remained available and visible to support their teams, an effective practice that remains in place today.

“They were there, supporting our teams as we learned new and different ways to care for our patients. “The visibility of the leaders was crucial,” Sintic said. “Whether it’s a nurse, a doctor, a service line manager or an administrative manager, we have given priority to the inspection and continue to do so now.”

Not only has leadership visibility across the healthcare system continued, but it has expanded since the pandemic, Sintic said.

“We have expanded the visibility of leadership to a wider group of leaders, including non-clinical leaders,” she said.

2. Create a sense of purpose and belonging

Like other health systems across the country, Inova has recruited nurses to increase its permanent staff, and continues to do so; However, the high pay that nurses can command makes hiring on a large scale an unsustainable option, Sintic said.

“We realize that we can’t compete with nurses’ salaries, but we’re very focused on our work environment, and what we can compete with is to create that sense of purpose and belonging, as well as well-being,” she said. . “We know that nurses want to be involved in meaningful work.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Inova redefined the importance of shared management throughout the system. As a result, nurses’ involvement in planning and structure has been raised from the level of their unit or ward to a systemic level, leading to a broad representation of nurses at the forefront, Sintic said.

“The trusted advisors who lead many of our councils are focused on professional development, quality improvement, nursing informatics, technology improvement, documentation, holistic care, care research, evidence-based practice and much, much more. areas, “she said.

One of the challenges was simply to make things easier, Sintic said.

“Whether it’s documentation [or] having their equipment and supplies at hand … they spent time on non-breastfeeding tasks, so we worked with our IT and supply chain colleagues to streamline many of their requests, ”she says. “We have proactive rounding out of our IT teams to proactively resolve any equipment issues and redistribute supplies for easier access.”

3. Provision of mental health services

“If there’s one thing the pandemic highlighted, it was the mental health crisis in general, but it also affected our healthcare team and our nurses exponentially, so another measure we introduced at the beginning was behavioral nursing practitioners. “Sintic says.

Behavioral nurses appeal not only to nurses, but to all team members throughout the health care system, she said.

“Our team members were so grateful for this service and so grateful that we are now hiring on-site advisors who are available to our teams,” she said.

4. Allow nurses to develop within their work

Night nurses often want to learn more while standing close to the bed, so Inova created the Nursing Informatics Liaison Program to allow nurses to develop new skills, allowing them to develop throughout their careers. .

“We are identifying additional opportunities where nurses can use their experience, whether it is focused on quality and safety, nurses as teachers or nurses in improving productivity,” says Sintic. “They can take the time to learn new skills that they can apply both to bed and to meaningful organizational work.”

The liaison program that has grown out of the pandemic also provides meaningful projects, she says, such as improving documentation, reducing the burden of documentation and providing appropriate quality measures.

5. Give new nurses individual career development

“We recognized that new nurses want to learn a number of different skills in their careers, and instead of moving up the chain of command, they may not want to be a leader, but they may want to learn different areas of expertise,” Sintic said. .

For example, a newly graduated nurse may have started in the medical-surgical department, but then decides to try childbirth and childbirth, intensive care of newborns or operating room. A nurse may decide to go to high school to become a practicing nurse. Inova provides career development for nurses who want to explore different areas of healthcare, Sintic said.

“We are very focused on how we can best support our team members through this individual career development plan and what they may want to achieve in their careers,” she said. “We also recognize that this can change as they learn and grow, so we want to be able to take that into account.”

“We want them to enjoy their work”

The sisters bring much more to the table than a caring spirit; they also bring exceptional opportunities, says Sintic.

“When you hear people talk about nurses, you hear them talk about the art of nursing, and we’re definitely a caring profession, but we’re not necessarily talking about the science of nursing,” she said. “Nurses are experts. They are scientists, they are computer scientists, they are health policy leaders, teachers, quality improvement experts and many others. ”

For these reasons, Inova provides ways to support nurses throughout their careers, Sintic said.

“We strive to provide an environment in which nurses can develop professionally, and we want them to enjoy the work because we know there is what I believe is a sacred job,” she said.

“It’s not easy, but there is such pride in the profession,” she says, “and we want every nurse who comes to the organization to feel that sense of achievement and pride, as well as belonging.”

Carol Davis is a nurse editor at HCL Pro’s HealthLeaders.

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