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January 31, 2008

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

UT Tyler Professor Seeks to Improve Retention Among Nurses


Dr. Lynn Wieck, Jacqueline M. Braithwaite professor of nursing at The University of Texas at Tyler, has conducted a research study to investigate the correlation between job incentives and retention among nurses, Dr. Linda Klotz, UT Tyler College of Nursing and Health Sciences dean, announced.

This is the first study to actually ask nurses what incentives they want and to tie this to their intent to stay or leave, according to Wieck, who received a $50,000 grant from the CHRISTUS Foundation, a non-profit Christian organization that supports its various health care systems around the state.

“The study was designed to look at what nurses of each generation want in order to remain in their job setting,” said Wieck. “Findings from this study indicate that hospitals might have better retention if they offer a transparent menu-plan of options for employees to choose those incentives which mean the most to them. Furthermore, stress-reduction programs may improve retention of registered nurses.”

For the year-long study, more than 1,500 registered nurses in 22 hospitals in four states provided input to an online survey about their work environment, perceived stress, intent to stay or leave and their satisfaction with their jobs and incentives.

“For the entire sample, the most important incentive was ‘pleasant working conditions where you work with people you like and who like you,’” said Wieck. “It was noteworthy that the three generations, with the average age at 42.7, differed as to which incentives they thought were most important. Younger nurses valued higher pay for holidays and weekends. Nurses over age 40 valued pensions and retirement benefits.”                            

Another important finding was that nurses who were more stressed and who were frequently asked to work in unfamiliar settings were more dissatisfied and more likely to leave, she added.

According to Wieck, experts predict a nursing shortage between 300,000 and 800,000 will occur by 2020, and with the largest generation in American history, the Baby Boomers, reaching an age where their health begins to decline, the need for nurse caregivers is vital.

Wieck hopes with the study and UT Tyler’s recently-approved Ph.D. in nursing program, more research and findings will develop to help health administrators increase nurse retention.

Dr. Jean Dols, senior director of quality and nursing excellence of the CHRISTUS Health System, served as co-investigator in the study.

A faculty member since 2005, Wieck specializes in nursing research and also serves as a national consultant for health policy and nurse workforce issues. She was instrumental in implementing the nursing doctoral program and will provide mentorship in the areas of health policies and work environment to students in the program.

For more information, contact Wieck, lwieck@uttyler.edu.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.


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