Nurse workforce retention: Identifying modifiable factors that affect nursing retention post-COVID

Document Type


Session Format

Oral presentation only (in-person)


Arts and Sciences 2-75

Publication Date

Spring 2024

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Catherine Fowler

Start Date

27-3-2024 2:00 PM

End Date

27-3-2024 2:10 PM


Nurses are a vital part of the healthcare system workforce, comprising approximately 4.2 million registered nurses (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2022). They account for approximately 30% of the hospital employment workforce (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). A shortage associated with this group could have a devastating effect on the healthcare system. Nurses provide care 24 hours, seven days a week to hospitalized patients. Their ability to competently provide evidence–based, efficient, sustainable, and safe care is critical to maintaining a healthcare system’s accessibility, efficiency, effectiveness, and safety. Consistent and adequate nurse staffing in the acute care setting is not realized in some organizations resulting in the inability to obtain the best outcomes for its patients, employees, and organization (Bakhamis et al., 2019).

Hospital expenditures associated with nursing turnover are estimated to be $40,038 for a bedside nurse, and each percentage change can create an annual cost or save an average of $270,800 (, 2020). These expenditures can significantly burden a hospital’s budget if the hospital has a low retention rate. The money spent to train nurses does not deliver a return on investment if the nurse leaves the facility prematurely. They not only leave with the training the facility invested in but also leave a vacancy that must be filled. As cited from the Nursing Solutions, Inc (NSI) January 2023 report, authors Minjeon, Seongkum, Yoon, JinShil, and Yoenhu, (2022) note the turnover percentages for Novice nurses at 39.8% turnover rate, while for nurses with more than five years of experience turnover rate at 13.4%. They cite from the NSI the difference in turnover rates relative to the size of the hospital, for instance, hospitals with 200-399 beds have a turnover rate of 24.4%, while hospitals with more than 500 beds have a turnover rate of 17.4% (Minjeong et al.,2022). As noted previously, registered nurses account for approximately 30% of the healthcare workforce, totaling 4.2 million positions. Even with a ten-percentage turnover rate, that would equal 420,000 nurses leaving the profession. High turnover rates open doors to adverse events, physical and mental fatigue, and increased turnover.

Therefore, hospital leadership should investigate the factors influencing nurses' decision to leave their current employer. Investigating these factors can lead the organization to a proactive approach toward nursing retention. Once the factors have been identified, the hospital can begin strategizing to decrease or eliminate those factors associated with nurse turnover. These strategies could lead to improved retention rates and patient outcomes, decreased employee burnout, and improved organization morale (Marufu, et al., 2021).

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