Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 14(1) January 2001 : 27-31.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2001.16308

Discovery Path: A Retention Strategy For Mid-Career Nurses

G. J. Donner and M. M. Wheeler


As health care administrators, policymakers, nursing organizations, and nurses begin to deal with the reality of a looming (and to an increasing extent, existing) serious shortage of nurses both in Canada and globally, recruitment and retention issues are again in the news. Much attention has been directed towards two responses: (a) attracting young people into the profession and helping them integrate into and identify with nursing as a lifelong career, and (b) developing sustainable retention strategies to ensure that nurses remain in nursing. One population that requires particular attention is the mid-career group of nurses. Those nurses, in their late 30s and 40s with 15 and more years of experience, have the professional memory that employers count on, the expertise that patients and clients require, and the experience and wisdom that young nurses depend on for coaching, mentoring, and support. Retention strategies targeted to these mid-career nurses require a diverse set of activities that are focused on those nurses' specific stage of personal and professional development and that recognize their unique needs. The purpose of this article is to describe a program that targets mid-career nurses, predominantly women who, having spent much of their careers and lives caring for others-children, parents, patients-are beginning to question their own futures. The goals of the program and the experiences of one group of nurses in the program, as well as the results of a two-year follow up with them, will be discussed. Recommendations for future retention strategies will also be offered.



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