New Metrics Show Higher Nurse Turnover Rates. How Can Virtual Nursing Simulations Help?

The latest industry data points to as high as 57% of new RNs turning over by their second year, with one in three possibly leaving in their first year. Compounded with the industry-wide nursing shortage, this is a costly problem that is extremely difficult to solve.

The high rate of RN turnover is extremely expensive for the healthcare system. It takes somewhere between 66 to 126 days to recruit a registered nurse, driving up the costs for each RN turnover to somewhere in between $38,300 and $61,100. The typical American hospital loses an average of between $4.4 million to $6.9 million per year merely to nurse turnover.

For a medical facility of any size, RN turnover is expensive and time-consuming. The first step in addressing this problem is understanding why this turnover happens to begin with.

What Factors Lead to High Nurse Turnover?

The reasons for high nurse turnover evolve over time, but a 2021 review published in the American Journal of Nursing Research  highlights the most up-to-date set of reasons for rapid RN turnover:

  • Feeling highly vulnerable and lacking confidence in their practice
  • High-stress, fast-paced working environment with no downtime
  • Limited institutional support

Newly graduated RNs show up for their jobs and immediately enter the chaos of short-staffed floors, without the confidence that comes with long-term experience. With the nursing shortage in full force, hospitals are struggling to keep enough qualified nursing staff on hand to ensure adequate coverage and nursing team support.

That AJNR review looked at 23 studies—22 of which were qualitative with the remaining one being mixed-methods—and sought to classify the specific stress points where inadequate preparation causes nurses to leave their job. There were four themes that these researchers were able to identify:

  1. Limited clinical experience in their undergraduate education
  2. Insufficient coping strategies for high stress
  3. Lack of organizational support to help guide them
  4. Limited accountability for nursing standards

Knowing where the shortcomings are in nursing education and preparation can directly lead to solutions.

What Solutions Can Help with High Nurse Turnover, Given the Nursing Shortage?

All four of the themes noted in this 2021 review stem from the same core problem: insufficient opportunities for direct clinicals in nursing education, which in turn is driven by the greater issue of a massive, industry-wide nursing shortage.

The high rate of new RN turnover is a symptom of that nursing shortage, but it also contributes to a vicious cycle of perpetuating that same nursing shortage.

We cannot continue to burn through existing nursing talent in hopes that the nursing shortage will resolve itself. We need to leverage resources that allow students to gain clinical experience and real-time feedback, free of any institutional limitations.

But how can the necessary clinical experience be provided to new RNs if there is an existing shortage of staff available to provide essential care for patients? How can nurses gain the knowledge, experience, and confidence they need to provide patients with good healthcare and positive outcomes?

Virtual nursing simulations address these problems by providing on-demand learning and clinical experience without requiring institutional support.

Research on learning outcomes consistently demonstrates improved clinical judgment skills and learner confidence whenever virtual nursing simulations are used. Different learning modules may be used to curate a custom-tailored experience to meet your learners’ needs.

Sentinel U offers a full range of modules across nursing specialties, as well as targeting specific challenges in clinical decision-making. This allows nursing educators and healthcare leaders like you to curate courses into a curriculum tailored to meet the specific issues your learners face. Some of our most popular simulations include:

  • Sentinel City® and Sentinel Town®, our flagship courses that address community health and public health concerns. Neither limited access to direct care clinicals nor logistical constraints need to hold your learners back from training in dense urban or remote rural community environments.
  • Nurses can master Prioritization of Care in the hospital or the clinical settings, with dozens of patient cases to work through from vital signs through chart observations—and prioritization for treatment. Because this is a risk-free environment, students can learn and build their confidence without worrying about making mistakes on real patients.
  • Patient Management and Delegation simulations help your learners directly build confidence in their clinical decision-making skills—again, with no risk to real-life patients. These completely immersive simulations directly parallel real-world conditions, so nurses can directly transfer the knowledge they gain onto the job.

Best of all? Sentinel U virtual nursing simulations align with AACN BSN Essentials, QSEN Competencies, and NCLEX materials. Directly reinforce nursing standards using Sentinel U products.

Unlike other virtual simulations, Sentinel U products are fully animated and interactive, paralleling what a real-world patient experience would involve. Real-time feedback is provided to each learner, allowing them to gain situational experience that aligns with best practices in experiential learning theory.

See for yourself how easy and effective virtual nursing simulations can be at empowering your learners with experience and confidence. Schedule your demo now.