Retain Staff With Professional Development for Nurses

Nurses who feel stuck with no clear career pathway are more likely to leave their job for a new one. This leaves organizations short of staff and burdened with filling vacancies – a process costing both time and money.

RN positions across the country saw a turnover rate of nearly 23% in 2022 — higher than the overall hospital average of 20%, according to a report by NSI Nursing Solutions.

Offering nursing professional development opportunities can be a critical tool to improve retention, while also strengthening patient care.

The power of nursing professional development

Headshot of smiling woman
Felicia Sadler, RN

Keeping nursing staff engaged and motivated is crucial to fostering job commitment.

Professional development opportunities can act as a light, guiding nurses to remain on track.

Workplaces without robust professional development options can leave nurses feeling isolated, overlooked, and unsupported.

An absence of goals can dampen motivation, leading to burnout, restlessness, and more turnover.

A loss of staff can put pressure on remaining nurses to pick up more work and negatively affects workplace culture. A skilled nurse leaving a facility also represents a loss of time and resources spent hiring and training the nurse — compounded by additional time and resources needed to recruit and hire a replacement.

Instead, organizations can invest in cultivating professional development for nurses to help increase retention. This ultimately results in better patient care — benefiting both nurses and employers, and of course, patients themselves.

Professional development helps nurses stay up to date with trainings and certifications, and help them gain new skills and knowledge. Nurses who feel supported results in a more positive work environment and builds long-lasting relationships that keep staff satisfied.

Nursing professional development options

Professional development opportunities for nurses can come in many shapes and sizes.

Felicia Sadler, MJ, BSN, RN, CPHQ, LSSBB, and Vice President of Quality at Relias, sees a variety of options to help build a thriving staff.

“Professional opportunities can promote engagement, personal and professional satisfaction for nurses,” Sadler said. “They feel well-supported and confident in their practice.”

Employers can help nurses become experts in clinical specialties, gain new skills, build a career path, access the latest evidence-based content, and foster leadership development, she added.

Nursing professional development opportunities include:

  • Continuing education courses
  • Personalized learning
  • Certification programs
  • Preceptor/clinical coach opportunities
  • Mentorship and shadowing programs
  • Academic offerings

Offering professional development opportunities can also increase the value of nursing staff for employers. Having highly skilled nurses ensures that the facility remains proficient in its practice and provides top care to patients.

nurse recruitment

Leveraging professional development

Woman smiling in headshot
Alice Benjamin, FNP-C

“Nurse Alice” Benjamin, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-C, and Chief Nursing Consultant at, has used a plethora of professional development opportunities to help expand her career.

Now the CEO and founder of her own brand, Benjamin has spent 25 years in healthcare. She started as an LPN after high school and worked her way through associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. She also has several certifications, including CEN, CCRN, and CV-BC.

Throughout her career, Benjamin has relied on professional development opportunities to grow her skills and lead her down a path of success. One of the most impactful opportunities was mentorship, she said.

“Mentorship has played a crucial role. By seeking out mentors and participating in peer networks, I’ve gained insights and advice that have guided my career decisions and helped me develop leadership skills,” Benjamin said. “These relationships have provided me with support and direction as I navigated the challenges and opportunities in the healthcare industry.”

Benjamin was able to learn from mentors and apply those leadership skills to her own career, serving in roles like patient safety manager of a hospital.

Taking advantage of continuing education courses and certification programs also helped launch her career.

“Gaining additional certifications, such as critical care nursing and emergency nursing, has not only broadened my expertise but also increased my value within multidisciplinary teams, leading to roles with greater responsibility,” Benjamin said. “Each of these steps in professional development has been instrumental in shaping my career and enhancing my ability to contribute effectively to my team and improve patient outcomes.”


The next generation: Gen Z nurses

Starting in 2024, Gen Z (born 1997-2012) will make up a larger share of the U.S. workforce than Baby Boomers (born 1955-1964), according to Glassdoor.

The nursing industry is already ahead of that trend, with Gen Z making up 19% of the workforce and Baby Boomers accounting for 14%, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employers that attract and retain Gen Z nurses can mitigate the effects of nurses retiring and leaving the workforce, while also investing in the future. Professional development tools are crucial to keeping newer nurses from switching jobs or even industries.

El Camino Health, a two-hospital system in California, has found success in new strategies to retain Gen Z nurses, said the system’s Chief Nursing Officer, Cheryl Reinking in HealthLeaders Media.

The system has low turnover rates across all nursing positions, with professional development efforts driving retention.

El Camino has created a one-year residency program for newly graduated nurses, allowing them to grow their career goals through clinical hours, classes, projects, and dedicated training. The program has a 92% retention rate, Reinking said in the article.

Taking action

Offering professional development opportunities isn’t just about ticking boxes on a checklist. It’s a strategic investment that benefits both nurses and employers.

As an employer, prioritizing professional development strategies can unlock the full potential of a nursing staff.

For more information on recruiting through our skills-based talent marketplace or to build your custom talent acquisition solution package, contact us today.