Learn About Employee Retention in Healthcare

Skill at every level

The healthcare industry requires a large staff of highly skilled employees. A nurse requires at least a two year associate degree in order to become registered, and doctors require eight years of post-secondary education and three to seven years of interning and residency. Front desk staff have specialized knowledge about legal regulations for patient privacy and insurance requirements. In short, almost every person working in healthcare has unique skills that are not easily replaced.


In healthcare, things need to move smoothly. While turnover at a restaurant could result in a meal not meeting standards or patrons having to wait longer for their dinner, in healthcare the results can be more significant. Reducing the amount of turnover by increasing employee retention in healthcare is important for everyone that needs care.

A large problem

The healthcare industry experiences a high rate of turnover. For emergency medical technicians and paramedics, average turnover is around 25 percent. That means that there is, on average, a completely new group of EMTs and paramedics at any given facility every four years.


The numbers are lower for registered nursing staff, but are still significant. Every year, approximately one in five registered nurses will leave a given place of work. For emergency medicine physicians, the relocation or turnover rate is over one in eight. 

Why turnover hurts

Every organization is unique, and every healthcare facility will have different layouts, procedures, and practices. In addition to the formal training that a healthcare worker receives outside of the workplace, there is a certain amount of institutional knowledge that will help make them more effective in their work. When a healthcare worker leaves their place of work, that on-the-job expertise goes with them.


Concretely, this amounts to many negative outcomes. For a healthcare provider, turnover is expensive. The interview process to replace a physician can cost a hospital over $30,000, which is more than one fifth of the average salary for a hospital physician. 


For patients, healthcare facilities with higher rates of turnover generate more negative outcomes. Misadministration of medicine, lower levels of cleanliness, and higher rates of falls while at the hospital are just a few of the increased dangers for patients at high turnover facilities.

Retaining valuable medical professionals

Given the costs associated with employee turnover in the healthcare industry, finding ways to reduce or stop the loss of valuable professionals is a huge priority. Human resources departments have a number of tools at their disposal. Pay raises and promotions may seem like the most obvious options, but there are caveats.


Increasing the take-home pay an employee receives may not be as effective as other options available. Four out of five employees surveyed in a 2015 study reported having a preference for increased benefits. Whether that be increased vacation time, longer parental leave, or employer provided child care, the majority of people would prefer quality of life improvements over a larger paycheck.

Partnering with employees on their futures

One powerful option for healthcare organizations is for an employer to help an employee gain additional training in their field. An employee tuition assistance program can be structured so that an employer provides financial assistance for employees in exchange for an agreement that the employee will remain with the organization for a fixed period of time. 


For the healthcare provider, an employer educational assistance program helps reduce turnover by contractually requiring a valued employee to remain with the organization. However, if the employer would like to increase the chances their newly trained worker remains with the company, they should follow the training with a promotion. An employee with more credentials should be promoted after they finish their contractual obligations in order to improve the chances of retaining them.


Another benefit that shows an employer cares about their workforce is a workplace financial wellness program. This may include debt counseling, student loan repayments, or financial education. When an employee knows that their employer is a partner for their own financial future, they show higher levels of job satisfaction.

FAQs on Employee Retention in Healthcare

What kinds of benefits can help improve healthcare employee retention?

Comprehensive healthcare, tuition assistance programs, and onsite child care can improve retention in the healthcare industry.

If an employee receives training through an employer educational assistance program, is that employee allowed to use that training elsewhere?

An employer can stipulate that an employee provides some time period of service to the organization following training. However, an employer cannot prevent an employee from using their training at other workplaces when their contract period has ended.

Is healthcare industry turnover higher than other industries?

Turnover in healthcare is actually lower than industries with the highest turnover, such as software developments and retail.

Why is there so much turnover in the healthcare industry?

There are many possible reasons why there is high turnover in healthcare. Many people that work in healthcare report high levels of burnout and exhaustion with their jobs. In addition, there is a growing need for doctors and nurses as the more and more people are entering old age. As a result, there are more job openings than can be filled, giving anyone with the requisite training the freedom to change jobs for higher pay.

With so much training and education, why does it matter if physicians or registered nurses change jobs?

Doctors and nurses are human, and when they work in teams they will have all the benefits and pitfalls of any other group of people. A team that has worked together can work more efficiently and safely than one that is still learning the best ways to communicate with each other. The result of lower turnover is better patient outcomes.


Family care benefits have never been more important. See how Bright Horizons can support your team.

Bright Horizons is a United States–based child-care provider and is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care. Employees looking to become a child care teacher are offered the opportunity to earn an early education degree for free as part of their corporate benefits. Search by zip to find a child care center near you. Bright Horizons Global Headquarters are in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.