September 1, 2023

AONL details novel, nontraditional ways to attract and retain nurses

Editor's Note

Healthcare institutions that are grappling with persistent staffing shortages—exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—are adopting unconventional strategies to attract and retain employees. Nurse leaders are piloting initiatives for both short- and long-term solutions to ensure the provision of quality patient care in the face of ongoing workforce challenges.

Such initiatives, as detailed by Robyn Begley, CEO of the American Organization of Nursing Leadership (AONL) and chief nursing officer and senior vice president of workforce of the American Hospital Association in HealthLeaders August 16, include:

  • Upskilling programs like Geisinger's Nursing Scholars Program and UCHealth's Ascend leadership program. Geisinger, a Pennsylvania healthcare system, is filling critical nursing roles through its Nursing Scholars Program, which awards $40,000 in financial support to each employee pursuing a nursing career. UCHealth in Colorado has invested $50 million in its Ascend leadership program to attract and keep employees, which it will pay for several degrees, including bachelor and master’s programs in both clinical and behavioral health.
  • Collaboration efforts like Allegheny Health Network's Work Your Way model and partnerships between healthcare providers and educational institutions, such as Mary Washington Healthcare and Germanna Community College. Allegheny Health, based in Pittsburgh, launched a mobile internal staffing model called Work Your Way, which provides flexibility for nurses to choose how and when they want to work. Mobile nurses work rotational, 6-week shifts in emergency, telemetry, critical care, and perioperative care at eight of Allegheny Health’s 14 hospitals. Mary Washington Healthcare in Virginia has partnered with Germanna Community College to onboard two cohorts of as many as 60 nursing students each year through its Earn While You Learn program, in which the students work 12–20 hours a week using a clinical rotation model.
  • Nontraditional support measures such as workforce housing investments by Bozeman Health in Montana and home purchase assistance programs like Northwell Health's and Johns Hopkins' are helping healthcare workers secure stable living arrangements. Bozeman has invested in 100 units in an upcoming housing complex to provide employees with affordable rentals. Northwell Health offers eligible employees as much as $5,000 in financial assistance to purchase a home on Long Island. And the Johns Hopkins Live Near Your Work program offers grants of up to $17,000 for housing down payment and closing costs in designated neighborhoods.

The above forward-thinking approaches aim to address immediate and long-term staffing needs in the healthcare industry.


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