The intended outcomes of the project were increases in staff nurse recruitment and retention and staff nurse job satisfaction. Retention rate is the number of nurses who separated from the correctional facility divided by the total number of registered nursing staff, while job satisfaction is the score obtained from a job satisfaction survey. The effects of the mentorship program on the selected outcomes are best determined at six months or one year after implementation. Following the evaluation conducted three months after the implementation, however, the retention rate increased by 1.6% which is small but still an improvement. There were also two new hires in the past month. Feedback from staff nurses in mentor or mentee roles were overwhelmingly positive. Based on these encouraging results, it is anticipated that outcome measures will further improve by the next evaluation.
In addition, an unexpected outcome was the decision of two nurses, due for early retirement, to stick it out at the facility for another six months because they wanted to experience the mentor role. The implication of the above initial outcomes is that the recently implemented mentorship program is effective in addressing the issue of nurse turnover and job dissatisfaction. Establishing mentoring relationships is not a resource intensive intervention and neither is it costly. As such, it is not only effective but also cost-effective. Considering that the aforementioned staffing and employee issues contribute to poor patient outcomes (McHugh et al., 2011; Bae, Mark & Fried, 2010), an appropriate solution promotes nurses’ fidelity to their roles and supports beneficence and non-maleficence. The outcomes of the project validate the findings in literature while adding the perspective of nurses in correctional settings.
Upon reflection, there were several significant findings associated with the mentorship project. It proved that the social environment at work has an impact on the wellbeing of nurses. In settings where there is lateral violence, disrespect, and apathy, nurses report dissatisfaction and intent to leave. On the contrary, when the work environment is characterized by nurturing, peer support, and collegiality, it contributes to greater satisfaction and retention. Hence, the quality of social connections or relationships on the job matter and should not be ignored by nurse leaders tasked to promote the welfare of the nursing staff (Temkin-Greener et al., 2011).
Equally important, the benefits extend beyond nurses to the organization as studies show that a cohesive nursing staff and peer support has been shown to correlate with a stronger organizational identification and commitment (Ko, 2011; van Beek et al., 2013). The enhancement in work environment resulting from the mentorship program and its effectiveness in reducing attrition further results in cost savings for the organization given that turnover for one nurse costs as much as $88,000 (Kalisch, Lee & Rochman, 2010). The outcomes ripple through to the patients as well because of the nurses’ greater motivation to work and better teamwork in care delivery (van Beek et al., 2013; Nelsey & Brownie, 2012). These attributes of the staff arising from a positive work environment and proactive management practices contribute to the attainment of quality improvement goals and patient satisfaction benchmarks (Temkin-Greener et al., 2011; Kutney-Lee et al., 2009). In a value-based health care system, quality care equates to continued participation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, fulfillment of criteria for financial incentives, and cost savings (Lawson et al., 2011; CMS, 2013).
Hence, the impact of mentorship is not confined to the nurses alone but resonates within the larger organization and its health care delivery system as well. Moreover, the establishment of a mentorship program has political significance. It communicates the fact that nurses, if empowered to become leaders, are capable of analyzing issues that affect them as well as planning, implementing, and evaluating solutions. For this reason, there is a firm basis for the Institute of Medicine’s call for nurses to help lead health care reforms.
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