With the existing nationwide nursing shortage, it is exciting that registered nurses are listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.75 million in 2014 to 3.19 million in 2024, an increase of 439,300 or 16 percent, according to employment projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Therefore, recruitment and retention of nurses becomes a top priority for healthcare systems everywhere and one of our main objectives here at Geisinger, where nurses are nationally recognized for their compassion, experience, knowledge, professionalism and quality.  The voice of Geisinger nurses is an integral part of developing solutions to recruitment and retention strategies. That’s why we looked to our nurses to find ways to recruit and retain the best, the brightest and the most experienced to work next to them at the bedside. When our nurses came up with solutions, we listened – and implemented – what they had to say. 

Based on their valuable input, we announced this month an update to our recruitment strategy aimed at attracting experienced RNs while continuing to enhance our culture and environment and support our nurses in their professional growth and development. The following reflects our new approach:

  • We are relaxing the BSN requirement for nurses with more than 5 years of acute care/inpatient experience. 

  • Based on nurses’ feedback that enrollment in a BSN program within six months of hire date is too short of a timeframe, that enrollment requirement is now 12 months for RNs with less than 5 years of experience (with a degree completion within 4 years).   

  • For those nurses currently studying for a BSN or considering starting school, we urge them to keep that momentum going. In no way are we lessening the value we place on advanced education. It’s part of our culture and remains central to our belief in the power of our Magnet designation, the highest seal of quality and confidence that recognizes Geisinger’s commitment to superior nursing processes and quality patient care. 

  • Our focus forever remains on patient outcomes, a vital effort of our newly announced Geisinger Nursing Institute. In addition, one of the top priorities of the Nursing Institute is nursing retention and we will continue to look to our nurses for their feedback and guidance on this path.

  • For those nurses from outside the state, know that we now include a relocation reimbursement to assist us in attracting talented nurses who we will help establish roots in our communities. 

When we made the announcement to employees, we received positive feedback from our nursing staff. The below email sums up reoccurring themes in each phone call, email and text we received: 

Thank you! The current requirements have left me literally without options. I cannot afford to go to school right now, nor in 6 months as I have a child in college and another going next year. I have been turned down for several jobs because I don’t currently have my BSN, despite having been a nurse at Geisinger Medical Center for 27 years. This more relaxed structure will not only open doors for nurses, it will also foster quality nurses. 
 
To our nurses, thank you for your unwavering commitment to caring and thank you for strengthening Geisinger’s longstanding commitment to providing our nurses opportunities for growth.  As a nurse, you play a vital role when it comes to each and every patient. You are the expert caregivers, the communicators, the patient advocates, the calming voice, the familiar face, the hand-holders. 

Nursing is a passion for those filled with compassion. We thank our current nurses for choosing Geisinger to fulfill their vocation and we welcome future nurses who share a devotion to the cause. 

Susan Robel, RN, BSN, MHA, is Executive Vice President, System Chief Nursing and Patient Experience Officer at Geisinger Health System. She began her professional career at Geisinger 35 years ago as a staff nurse. 

Sue Robel
Geisinger’s Chief Nursing Officer and Executive Vice President Susan Robel, R.N., BSN, MHA.