Hospitals desperate to keep nurses as workers retreats from healthcare

About a quarter of Florida nurses are leaving the workforce, either due to burnout, retirement, or other jobs, and healthcare leaders said they’re reaching a breaking point. 

Florida healthcare leaders are turning to the state for help so they can meet the growing needs of the future. A recent report from the Florida Hospital Association found one in four nurses is leaving their job right now.

"So nurses are retiring earlier. They may be taking a break from healthcare, or they may be pursuing more lucrative opportunities with staffing agencies," said Mary Mayhew, president of the Florida Hospital Association.

Mayhew said healthcare leaders are talking with lawmakers about the next steps. Colleges are adding programs to pump new recruits into the pipeline, but hospitals need nurses now.

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"We're going to look at creative programs like apprenticeships that are demonstrating incredible success in improving retention rates," said Mayhew.

She said healthcare groups are even talking about ways to get more experienced or retired nurses into the classroom to teach more students. 

"Having trained mentors that are supporting new nurses we know makes a difference in allowing nurses to feel confident and to reduce the chances of them leaving," Mayhew said.

It will take a few years for more trained nurses to fill the pipeline, and there’s a current critical need. So Mayhew said hospitals are looking at how to hold on to the people they have while giving students the hands-on experience they need.

"We are going to have to do our best on multiple fronts, including making sure that we retain our staff and examining the workplace environment to make sure that it's a place where people want to come to work, even though it is always a demanding environment," said Mayhew.

FHA said they hope the state will consider funding new solutions.

"I think that's part of the challenge that we've all been facing is that there's no silver bullet overnight answer to what is truly a significant crisis," she said.

Healthcare groups are relying on staffing agencies more than ever to fill open slots, and it can take two to three or more to fill those jobs.