Exploring the Dynamics of Attracting and Retaining Acute Care Psychiatric Registered Nurses: An In-Depth Analysis Using Focus Groups

Kendra L. Ratnapradipa, Julia Fisco Houfek, Phoebe Gearhart, Erin O. Schneider, Christine Chasek, Danae Dinkel, Katrina M. Cordts, Marley Doyle, Priyanka Chaudhary, Deepanjali Bhale, Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recruitment and retention of in-patient psychiatric mental health registered nurses (PMH-RNs) remains a challenge. This qualitative study sought to identify factors impacting the recruitment and retention of PMH-RNs in acute-care settings. Participants (N = 15) were recruited for focus groups including one with in-patient unit administrators (n = 4), two with current PMH-RNs (n = 7), and two with nursing students (n = 4). Data were analyzed using a directed content analysis approach. Participants were informed about the study's purpose, procedures, potential risks, and benefits, and they provided verbal consent before participating. Administrators emphasized a focus on retention and described a variety of supports they provided PMH-RNs, including formal and informal support and education. PMH-RNs' most prevalent concerns were their safety, co-worker and/or management challenges, and emotional and/or physical exhaustion. Students also expressed concerns about safety in psychiatric settings and desired more interaction with PMH-RNs. They were also interested in learning more about the specialty as they valued the opportunity to see change in patients. All three groups mentioned a need for more interaction between students and PMH-RNs, while safety concerns were expressed by both PMH-RNs and students. Because PMH-RNs play a critical role for in-patient psychiatric care, recruiting and retaining specialist nurses can focus on increasing student engagement with the PMH-RNs, attending to PMH-RNs' management and staffing concerns, and providing additional resources for responding to events that threaten safety in the workplace to prevent burnout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3167255
JournalJournal of nursing management
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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