The Next Generation of Nursing: Recruiting and Retaining Millennials

01.10.18 Karen Kennedy Healthcare, Industry Insights
The Next Generation of Nursing: Recruiting and Retaining Millennials

When I became a registered nurse in the spring of 1997, I was simply happy to pass my boards and land a specialty job at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. There was not a lot of incentive programs to attract nurses to the local healthcare systems. However, now with the advent of the nursing shortage becoming severe in many parts of our country, executive leaders are working to develop strategies and programs to recruit and retain nurses to their healthcare system. The initiatives include a wide range of programs such as tuition reimbursement, loan repayment programs and increased salaries. I have also seen hospitals offer a new car sign-on bonus to incentivize nurses! All these are great enticements to catch the eye of potential clinicians, however what about retaining them when the real work starts? The retention programs may include hiring additional Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) to ease the workload for nursing staff. But, hiring CNA’s is not enough to help system-wide communication issues leading to clinical burnout.

Healthcare leaders understand baby boomers are getting older and nearing retirement, at the same time millennials have and are entering the work environment with a different set of expectations. When I talk with my nephews and nieces (who are the quintessential millennials) and ask what they want from their job/employers, the resounding answers are that they want a job with purpose and they expect their employers to engage them. They are not just in it for the money. Therefore, healthcare is faced with the challenge of attracting and maintaining not just clinicians, but ‘Millennial-Clinicians’. Millennials have a dynamic communication style with an affinity to texting. The top reasons why millennials prefer texting is the speed and convenience that texting offers. Not only are nurses texting each other, residents and physicians tend to be more responsive to the immediacy of texting as well. The problem with SMS texting is that it is unsecured and a potential HIPAA violation.

A generation raised with technology

To usher in a new generation of nurses, it is essential for healthcare leaders to understand what millennials need and desire to communicate quickly and efficiently. Millennials want an innovative work environment which understands how they want to work competently and rapidly to communicate patient needs. Texting, while instantaneous, also provides the communicators the ability to think about their words before hitting send. Texting provides a more comfortable and precise form of communication than talking on the phone. Millennials also prefer text messages for their group conversation capabilities. Secure texting is utilized for spreading information about emergencies since text messages are more likely to be read within two minutes versus emails and reduce the noise of overhead pages. Let’s face it, millennials know texting is convenient, fast and easy to use.

Millennial healthcare workers also want a streamlined, integrated workflow. Hospitals and healthcare, in general, tend to be slow to adopt innovative technologies that streamline clinical inefficiencies. Outdated communication mechanisms need to be updated. One such outdated process is the use of whiteboards which list who to page for various needs (Respiratory Therapist, Physical Therapist, Physician Consult). The whiteboards need to be manually updated during each varying shift. We have all seen those whiteboards in hospitals that are overused and contain outdated information. With the advent of workflow integration into scheduling systems, the whiteboard will no longer be used to know who to call. Healthcare workers can have updated real-time information at their fingertips of who is on-duty for a specific role and message or call the appropriate person without having to know their phone number! No more pager-phone tag and wondering if the person you are trying to reach has received your page.

Once healthcare organizations accept clinical communication solutions like TigerText as integral to the future of care team collaboration, millennials will be the first to really embrace the technology and reap the benefits of the improved workflow. By giving them the tools they crave they will be happier, stay with their organizations longer, and in turn, provide an exceptional level of care to their patients.

For more information on how TigerText can change the way care teams communicate, visit