Nurses largely content, but need improvement in onboarding, career development


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About two-thirds of nurses say they’re satisfied with their career, with eight in 10 saying they’re likely to stay in healthcare. But according to a new Jarrard survey, there’s room for improvement, particularly when it comes to onboarding and career development.

Nurses gave onboarding programs an average mark of 6-7 on a scale of 1-10. Two-thirds or fewer agree their organization gives new nurses the resources to succeed, while nurses who have been on the job a while feel an even lower level of support from their organization.

Just a little more than 60% said that during orientation and onboarding, new nurses and APRNs are given the information, tools and resources necessary to be successful in their job long-term. Similar numbers said their managers and supervisors are committed to helping new nurses get up to speed and learn what is expected of them during their first 90 days on the job.

Meanwhile, a little more than half of nurses feel they’re provided career growth opportunities. Nurses at nonprofit and investor-owned organizations were equally likely to agree that they’d been given recent professional development opportunities (57% and 58% percent, respectively). In contrast, only 49% of nurses in independent practices agreed.

About 62% said their organization gives them the tools and resources necessary to succeed and be satisfied in their careers; only 54% said their organization is committed to helping longer-tenured nurses succeed and be satisfied.


Data showed that a strong onboarding program is a vital component of nurse retention. Yet support of new nurses shouldn’t come at the expense of longer-tenured caregivers, survey authors said.

Instead, they said, leaders should consider redoubling efforts to strengthen and expand preceptor programs. This may include finding new incentives to recruit preceptors. 

“Don’t put safety and quality at risk during shortages by throwing new nurses into the fire of clinical care before they’re fully ready,” the report said. “Instead, focus on ways to provide new nurses a more consistent, complete preceptor experience.”

Leaders should also ensure new nurses have a complete picture of their work. That means clearly defining the administrative onboarding process, and including plenty of time with colleagues and team leads to talk about team dynamics – not just clinical orientation.

The survey also recommended leaders provide ongoing opportunities to grow and advance in ways meaningful to each individual. That means involving these established caregivers in dialogue about the organization so they can see where things are headed. When employees don’t see or feel left out of change, they’re less likely to stay, authors said.

They also suggested modifying the performance review process to allow for more frequent feedback – ensuring it’s not punitive, and that it’s an opportunity for nurses to provide input.


With inflationary pressures mounting, the most in-demand position is that of a nurse, advertising 437,168 vacancies in June, followed by nursing assistant (104,275 jobs) and specialized physician (55,378 jobs), according to research from job search engine Adzuna.

Compared to a year ago, all nursing vacancies have skyrocketed, growing as much as 351%. However, employers appear more reluctant this year to provide monetary incentives like sign-on and retention bonuses.

While the recurring narrative of nurses being severely underpaid is not new, advertised salaries for nurses averaged just $85,244 in June 2023, despite the high demand.

Among the 12 nurse positions in the data set, critical care nurse has had the biggest year-on-year growth in the number of vacancies (+351.19%), but at the same time the role has experienced the biggest drop in the proportion of jobs offering sign-on bonuses (-21.19 percentage points).

Twitter: @JELagasse
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