New study: HCA Healthcare gains insight into Millennial and Gen Z nurses

A group of smiling nurses

HCA Healthcare, one of the largest employers of nurses in the United States, releases findings from a new nursing study conducted on what motivates the new generations entering the profession. Read on for more insight into Millennial and Generation Z nurses.

Millennial and Gen Z nurses are rapidly making up a larger portion of the nursing workforce. Seeking to meet the needs of this changing demographic, HCA Healthcare commissioned a study conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics to better understand what drives, engages and motivates the new generations of nurses entering the profession.

Through a survey of 1,000 Millennial nurses and 250 Gen Z nurses, key factors to enhance their recruitment and retention were found to be strong working relationships, opportunities for both horizontal and vertical career advancement, and access to resources.

Woman in white and black blazer. Headshot of Jane Englebright.
Jane D. Englebright, senior vice president and chief nurse executive for HCA Healthcare

“Every day, nurses make a tremendous contribution to delivering a high-quality patient care experience, and it’s incumbent on health system leaders to help new nurses navigate opportunities and thrive,” said Jane D. Englebright, senior vice president and chief nurse executive for HCA Healthcare. “To meet our patients’ needs, we must ensure the profession continues to attract dedicated and talented individuals, and once they start, that we not only empower them to succeed at their current job, but also provide opportunities and training that enable career progress.”

What matters to Millennial and Gen Z nurses?

The study identified several major influences on Millennial and Gen Z nurses when evaluating current or future employment options, including the importance of team and managerial relationships, communications, ability to share ideas, opportunities for advancement, and access to the latest tools and resources for career development.

Among the most important factors in creating a positive work environment were nurses’ relationships, communication and ability to grow professionally:

  • Nearly half (44%) of Millennial and Gen Z nurses rated team and managerial relationships as the top dynamics in a positive work environment.
  • 42% of nurses cited communication and the ability to make clinical decisions as important factors.
  • 43% said the opportunity to grow professionally through career advancement was a crucial factor impacting the work environment.
  • More than a quarter (28%) of nurses also cited the importance of modern facilities and updated equipment as a factor in a positive work environment.

Additionally, the study looked at what helps nurses feel supported at work, as well as how nurses view career advancement and the need for training. Support characteristics such as scheduling flexibility, staffing levels, personal relationships, teamwork, training and the ability to have a voice in the organization were rated as important or very important by 43% – 46% of nurses.

  • Flexible work schedules was selected by 49% as the top way to help nurses feel supported, while 47% said having a clear pathway to sharing your ideas or having your concerns heard helps them feel supported.
  • For Millennial and Gen Z nurses, career advancement may not always be represented by vertical movement. Over a quarter (28%) of nurses rate being given increasing amounts of responsibility equal to moving to a different floor or department.
  • Having a clear direction or knowing exactly what is needed to advance your career was rated as important or very important by 46% of nurses, and 36% of nurses chose career advancement training as the most helpful type of employer education.

“The survey results highlight the importance of providing a transparent environment that gives nurses a sense of belonging while serving a greater purpose,” said Jason Dorsey, president and lead researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics. “Ultimately every nurse is different, but it’s clear that nurses’ relationships, ability to be heard and feeling supported in their careers are important to maintaining a positive work environment that will attract and retain talented nurses.”

nurse holding hands with girl in hospital

Engaging next-gen nurses

To foster team relationships and open communication, HCA Healthcare has taken specific measures to ensure nurses’ voices are heard and knowledge is shared. This includes established facility-based nurse councils to ensure nurses can share best practices and collaborate on clinical topics related to patient outcomes, nursing quality and quality standards.

Career advancement at HCA Healthcare is designed to help aspiring nurses from residency throughout their career path, whether they choose to move horizontally through a specialization or vertically into management and executive positions.

  • In 2018, more than 2,600 registered nurses obtained national certification in a specialty area through the HCA Healthcare voucher program.
  • HCA Healthcare provided employees with a collective $31.8 million in tuition reimbursement, cementing a commitment to supporting their employees’ education both inside and outside the workplace.
  • HCA Healthcare provides the right equipment and clinical support to save time and help accomplish the best patient outcomes. Its evidenced-based clinical documentation technology not only improves consistency in nursing practice, but also saves an average of 30-minutes of documentation time for every nurse and every shift.
  • HCA Healthcare’s Centers for Clinical Advancement across the United States provide nurses with state-of-the-art training and the ability to hone their craft using high-tech, lifelike simulation equipment to replicate real-life situations.
  • HCA Healthcare offers a Specialty Training Apprenticeship for Registered Nurses (StaRN) during its Nurse Residency Program, which provides new graduates the opportunity to obtain acute care nursing experience through an intensive 10-17 week paid internship. Participants receive classroom and skills training, simulation training, clinical preceptorship and professional development that enables them to move directly into specialty areas.
  • Exemplified in its recent purchase of Galen College of Nursing, one of the largest educators of nurses in the United States, HCA Healthcare is committed to increasing access to education and providing nursing career development opportunities that will prepare nurses for today’s workforce.

To access the complete research findings, click here.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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