This white paper was commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in response to the critical nursing shortage. It is generally agreed that the best approach to having enough nurses includes increasing the number of enrolled students and retaining them through graduation, retaining new graduates and nurses at all stages of their professional career, and re-recruiting nurses who have left the field. This study focused on retention of older nurses to the usual retirement age and includes some perspectives that may be useful in retaining technicians in veterinary practices. Many of the suggestions have been researched in various ways but all essentially seem to be common sense, such as attractive work options, economic incentives, and retirement programs. Job satisfaction was important for workers of all ages. Development of innovative roles was discussed, including best-practices coach, community liaison, and mentors for new nurses.

COMMENTARY: The lack of trained veterinary technicians to work in veterinary practice continues to be a challenging problem. With a concurrent shortage of veterinarians, many practices are facing a crisis in recruiting medically trained personnel. As pointed out in this article and in many others, flexibility is the key to recruiting and keeping valuable personnel.

Wisdom at work: The importance of the older and experienced nurses in the workplace. Hatcher BJ (ed), Bleich MR, Connolly C, et al. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, June 2006.