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Nurse retention boosted by internships and transition programmes

Newly qualified nurses are more likely to stay in their jobs if they take part in an internship or a transition to practice scheme, researchers have found.   

Structured learning interventions can improve retention rates in the first year after qualification which is a ‘critical time’ for nurses to leave the profession, suggested academics at City, University of London after a review of 53 papers from across the globe.  

Six studies showed retention increased by 24% when newly qualified nurses were provided with an internship or residency programme.  

Meanwhile, a further fifteen studies showed a 13% increase in retention and a 18% decrease in turnover relating to transition to practice programmes.  

The ‘highest benefit’ came when these interventions lasted six to 12-months and incorporated elements such as formal teaching, preceptorship and mentorship, the authors said. 

The authors suggested incorporating such programmes in local or national policy as it would mean new nurses feel ‘more confident’ when they become qualified.  

They said the findings can help inform policy to help retain early career nurses but noted that healthcare systems are subject to ‘funding restraints’.  

However, they added that a cost-benefit analysis would be ‘beneficial’ as even the shortest interventions – including those lasting less than four weeks – were found to have a positive effect. 

Professor Debra Salmon, principal investigator of the research, said:  'This is an important research study, as it is the first to establish through an evidence review the most effective approach to delivering interventions aimed at early career nurse retention.  

‘Understanding how best to structure these interventions is an important finding for healthcare leaders across the sector.  This will have important impacts in terms of nurse workforce retention globally, as it will allow health care and education providers to develop training which supports early career nurses to flourish.’ 

The systematic review was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies and funded through a grant from the Burdett Trust for Nursing. 

The news follows the release of the NHS Interim People Plan earlier this year, which outlined ways to improve the retention of nurses.   

This includes beginning work to the extend the retention programme launched in 2017 into general practice by March 2020.