Of the many factors that contribute to the rising cost of healthcare, recruitment and training adequate nursing staff could be reduced by implementing strategies to increase the retention rate (Jones, 2017). According to Schroyer, Zellers, and Abraham (2016) a facility spends thousands of dollars on each new hire from the recruitment period through orientation and training. However, most new hires are expected to leave their first place of employment within the first year making the financial toll on the facility notable to the overall cost of healthcare. Fortunately, research studies indicate that a successful mentorship program can increase the retention rate and produce positive effects to the rising cost of healthcare (Jones, 2017).
One such study was conducted by to Schroyer, Zellers, and Abraham (2016) and involved registered nurses at a 325 bed facility. In a sample of 70 nurses, the researchers divided the sample into a mentor group and a nonmentor group. The researchers collected data through surveys indicating the intent to stay and the staffing rosters which showed the number of participants who stayed at the facility. According to the findings, the mentor group had a retention rate of 91% while the nonmentor group had a retention rate of 66%. According to Schroyer, Zellers, and Abraham (2016) these findings are significant when considering the magnitude of savings through the retention despite the cost of implementing the mentorship program. In a similar study, Jones (2017) found that the intent of the new hires to stay following the implementation of a mentorship program increased by 75% and noted that there was no difference between the level of education that the new hires had completed when considering the increase to job satisfaction rates. In other words, with all other factors considered, the mentorship program was effective at reducing the turnover rate for all nurses.
One of the most consistent factors in both studies was found to be the intention of the nurses to stay based on their level of job satisfaction which was related to their ability to perform their duties in a supportive environment. The studies indicate that mentorship programs are an effective “intervention to foster support and socialization of new RNs to an organization or unit” (Jones, 2017, pg. 17). Specifically, Schroyer, Zellers, and Abraham (2016) note that mentor programs increase the sense of belonging to the unit which, in turn, increases the nurse satisfaction levels. When this occurs, according to Jones (2017) not only does the facility save on the costs associated with a high turnover, but the patient outcomes and satisfaction are also increased reducing the costs associated with medical errors. In other words, tenured nursing staff members and adequate staff is directly related to a reduction in medication errors and safety issues which can greatly affect the cost of care in an inpatient facility. By increasing nurse satisfaction and retention rates, these negative effects can be countered, and patient outcomes improved.
While only two studies have been presented, it is important to note that the extent of research relating to mentorship programs is far reaching and serves as adequate data to implement such a program as an evidence based practice change. Mentors not only provide additional knowledge and training to the new hires but also increase their sense of belonging and socializes them into the environment and culture of the facility. The costs associated with the program are minimal when considering the high costs of inadequate staffing and high turnover rates. In brief, implementing a mentorship program in a hospital setting will improve patient outcomes, increase retention rates, and help to reduce the cost of healthcare.
- Jones, S. J. (2017). Establishing a nurse mentor program to improve nurse satisfaction and intent to stay. Journal for nurses in professional development, 33(2), 76-78.
- Schroyer, C. C., Zellers, R., & Abraham, S. (2016). Increasing registered nurse retention using mentors in critical care services. The health care manager, 35(3), 251-265.