Contextualizing Nursing Needs for Development of Retention-Support Aid


Healthcare systems throughout the nation are struggling to retain early-career nurses, and the issue has become critical both for cost and quality of care. The Contextual Innovation and Practice (CIP) group* at the Applied Research Institute, in partnership with a research team at OSF Healthcare, have been awarded funding to tackle this problem by identifying the specific support gaps felt by nurses and determining the optimal assistance methods for improving nurse well-being, and thus, retention rates. 

OSF has observed that an alarming 28% of nurses leave within their first year of employment as a result of feeling disconnected, inexperienced, and overwhelmed. While it's known that nurses too frequently respond to these stressors by leaving their positions, it's unclear what interventions would support them sufficiently to remain. Retention is hypothesized to be dependent upon continuing training, workplace support, and professional mentorship, but the form these interventions take may not be scaleable to all nursing staff. Applying CIP methodology, the research team will identify nursing support needs in consideration of each specialty group so that design of a support aid can target both explicitly stated and implicitly held needs for assistance, education, mentorship, and community-building.

By identifying the unmet needs and conditions that cause nurses of varying specialties and demographics across the OSF Healthcare System to leave their positions, the research team aims to deduce the critical pathway to a fulfilled nursing workforce as well as the support aid elements necessary to achieve that contentment, ultimately improving nurse well-being, reducing the turnover rate, increasing the quality of service, and minimizing operating costs. By providing this targeted support to nurses before they consider resigning their positions, OSF will be able to more successfully sustain and grow a well-trained, experienced, and work-satisfied health care staff, which in turn minimizes conditions that may affect delivery of patient care, administrative operations, and budgets. The objectives of this funded Phase 1 effort are the identification of nursing support needs and analysis of the avenues best suited to offer that support. Following this, the team will submit for Phase 2 funding to see through the development of the support aid itself.

* In April 2024, the Contextual Innovation and Practice (CIP) research core changed its name to Technology and Process Adoption (TAPA). To learn more about this group and recent projects, visit the group page here.