Addressing New Graduate Nurse Turnover: A Call for Change

The turnover rate among new graduate nurses is a growing concern within the healthcare industry. Despite the high demand for nurses and the increasing need for quality healthcare, statistics indicate that a significant number of new nurses leave their positions within the first few years of their careers. This turnover impacts patient care and has a detrimental effect on the nurses themselves. In this blog post, we will explore the alarming data surrounding new graduate nurse turnover and discuss the urgent need for change if we are to retain and support these valuable healthcare professionals. 

Understanding the Magnitude of the Issue:

The statistics surrounding new graduate nurse turnover paint a worrisome picture. In 2020, the turnover rate for nurses with less than one year of experience reached 24.6%*, reflecting a concerning trend. Subsequent surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022 revealed even higher turnover rates, with figures ranging from 18% to 57%* within the first two years of employment. These numbers indicate a significant loss of talent and experience within the nursing profession, not to mention the cost of obtaining an education that is no longer put to use. 

The Need for Change:

The growing turnover rates among new graduate nurses are unsustainable and demand urgent attention. A survey conducted in 2022 revealed that over half of nurses were considering or actively planning to leave their current positions. This trend extends across different age cohorts, with younger nurses expressing a higher intent to leave. With the demand for nurses projected to increase and nursing schools struggling to keep up with the demand, it is imperative to address this issue. 

Factors Influencing Turnover:

Several factors contribute to the high turnover rates among new graduate nurses. A 2022 analysis highlighted staffing shortages, heavy workloads, and inadequate onboarding and training as the main reasons for nurses leaving the profession. The chaotic practice environment exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded these issues, causing additional stress and burnout among healthcare professionals. The resulting impact on nurses’ mental health and overall well-being is profound, with reports of increased burnout and declining mental health.

Positive Developments and Potential Solutions:

Despite the challenges, there are reasons for optimism. The exponential growth in the number of nursing practitioners, particularly among the younger generation, offers hope for the future. Leveraging the lessons learned from this growth, it is crucial to find ways to retain and support new graduate nurses. This includes addressing staffing shortages, improving onboarding and training programs, and prioritizing nurses’ mental health and well-being. 

Demand for Nurses:

The demand for nurses continues to rise, with projected job growth of 9%** from 2020 to 2030. However, nursing schools are struggling to meet this demand due to various constraints, including lack of clinical placements and faculty resulting in qualified applicants being turned away. For the first time in 20 years we have seen a decrease in the number of nursing school applicants of 1.4%***. Resolving this workforce pipeline challenge requires creative solutions and changing the way that we educate new nurses, such as increasing faculty, expanding clinical sites, incorporating more technology and securing additional resources. 

The Impact on Nursing Outcomes:

The consequences of new graduate nurse turnover extend beyond the individual nurses themselves. The shortage of nurses leads to significant staffing challenges, which negatively affect patient care. Additionally, nurses experience increased levels of burnout, declining mental health, and workplace incivility. These outcomes highlight the urgency of addressing turnover and creating a supportive and nurturing environment for new graduate nurses. It is crucial for healthcare organizations, policymakers, and educators to collaborate and implement effective strategies to retain and support these valuable healthcare professionals. By doing so, we can ensure the sustainability of the nursing profession and enhance the quality of patient care for years to come. 

* Advisory Board, 2021

**Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

***American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 2023