May 14, 2004

Dubree touts low nurse turnover, vacancy rates in nursing address

Featured Image

Left to right: Patricia Sneed, medical receptionist in the MICU, Marilyn Dubree and Lynda Bolan, manager on the eighth floor of VUMC, gather after last week’s State of Nursing Address in Light Hall. Sneed was chosen as the recipient of the 2004 Friend of Nursing Award and Bolan received an award recognizing Innovative Practice. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Dubree touts low nurse turnover, vacancy rates in nursing address

It’s been about two years since Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Patient Care Services, Marilyn Dubree, M.S.N., R.N. announced the “Be the Best, Keep the Best” Campaign, to address nurse retention. This year, in her annual State of Nursing Address, Dubree said the success of the initiative continues to leave a lasting mark on the Medical Center.

Dubree said the campaign has helped VUMC to maintain turnover and vacancy rates below the national average. Turnover rates are 18 percent nationally and are at 11 percent at Vanderbilt, she said.

Dubree said she was pleased that even though Vanderbilt created several nursing positions at the new Children’s Hospital — thus adding to the vacancy rates — Vanderbilt’s vacancy rates remained between 11 percent and 12 percent. Nationally vacancy rates are at 13 percent, she said.

She praised the recruitment team for their work to bring new faces to Vanderbilt to fill some of those positions.

“We’ve been hiring very successfully over the past year and I am delighted with those results,” said Dubree.

She said the recruitment team used specific plans to fill niche needs and piloted a SWAT team approach to expedite hiring in Children’s Hospital.

“We are careful to make sure we get the right person for the right job, so we can make sure they do the best job they can,” said Dubree. “We wanted to attract and retain the very best staff that we possibly could and focus on the wellness of the staff in our institution, and shift our culture to engage individuals who do the work to make decisions through shared governance, and we’ve been able to do that.”

Dubree announced some new programs being offered at the Medical Center to help foster the growth of nurses, including the Step Ahead Online B.N. Program. The program allows R.N.’s who don’t have a bachelor’s degree in nursing to complete a degree online and continue to grow academically. Sixteen nurses have already participated in the new program.

Plans to take part in a pilot study of a nursing residency program, in conjunction with the University Hospital Consortium, were also revealed. The program hopes to provide a solid orientation for new graduates who enter the profession as bachelor’s degree- prepared nurses.

Becky Keck, M.S.N., R.N., assistant hospital director, said 70 percent of the new hires at VUMC are bachelor’s prepared nurses and 30 percent have associates degrees in nursing. “We’re one of about 10 to 12 university teaching hospitals nationwide participating in the program. New nurses will be in the program for one year and will take a number of satisfaction surveys and measurements in critical thinking,” Keck said. “This will help assimilate them to the profession of nursing,” she added. The program is expected to be accepting applicants by January of 2005.

Dubree also announced the creation of a Director of Nursing Education position, which will provide strategic leadership for nursing education and will work in conjunction with Vanderbilt’s Learning Center. The position is expected to be filled sometime this summer.

Other topics discussed included:

• Dubree also applauded the work of the Nurse Wellness Task Force. She said the programs offered at Vanderbilt have been recognized nationally as nurses try to balance work and home lives.

“Improvements in safety in and around the hospital have been made as part of the group’s efforts, and they’ve worked to carefully address the needs of nurses over 40 at VUMC,” she said.

• The academic partnership between the Medical Center and the School of Nursing continues to grow, according to Dubree. She noted the recent agreements between the School of Nursing and both Fisk and Lipscomb Universities, the transition program for foreign-born nurses, and new programs in Nursing Informatics, Forensic Nursing, and Palliative Care Nursing, and said the programs would benefit nurses in the hospital.

“Last year we hired a total of 25 new nurse practitioners to assist with patient care, 53 percent of these came from the School of Nursing, and we are fortunate to be able to partner with them,” Dubree said.

The State of Nursing Address coincides with National Nurses’ Week each year, which wrapped up celebrations across the Medical Center campus last week.