Tabitha Fineberg heashot
Tabitha Fineberg, MHA, MSEd

As our industry continues to face a significant nursing shortage, organizations are striving to create environments where nurses genuinely love to work.

Although no one-size-fits-all solution to this challenge exists, innovative programs such as the ones being implemented at Hebrew SeniorLife can help cultivate a positive work culture and support nursing staff. By prioritizing individual career goals, offering educational opportunities and fostering a strong sense of community, Hebrew SeniorLife has successfully created a workplace that many nurses consider their “forever home.”

Support career growth

A key element is to provide nurses with personalized career counseling, irrespective of their staff level.

When an organization demonstrates that it values each individual’s aspirations and actively assists in charting a path toward achieving their goals, it encourages a culture of continuous growth. This might look like direct managers and executive staff stepping up and asking how they can help support employees so they can get a master’s degree or PhD. This level of attention and encouragement helps nurses reach their full potential.

Empower educational opportunities

Through strategic partnerships with institutions such as St. Joseph’s College, Hebrew SeniorLife offers innovative programs that enable certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, obtain their BSN degrees.

Clinical instruction is conveniently provided on our campuses by our own experts, who also serve as adjunct professors at St. Joseph’s. This arrangement allows nurses to balance work and academic commitments effectively while eliminating travel time to another location to take classes and meet with professors.

Additionally, we demonstrate the importance to us of helping employees achieve their career goals by offering them generous tuition reimbursement, reduced tuition and scholarships to facilitate affordable access to higher education. Notably, scholarship programs funded by residents of the senior living communities they serve demonstrate a shared commitment to nurturing the next generation of nurses.

Create pathways to careers

Organizations can expand their talent pool by looking beyond their workforce and collaborating with nonprofit organizations to address the need for new nursing professionals.

Through initiatives such as the Workforce Skills Cabinet, or WSC, program, Hebrew SeniorLife offers work-and-earn training and placement services to unemployed and underemployed individuals aspiring to become CNAs. By providing opportunities for career entry and growth, organizations can actively contribute to solving the nursing shortage issue and build a diverse pipeline of dedicated caregivers.

Retain talent, cultivate excellence

The ultimate goal is to recruit and retain nursing professionals throughout their careers. To achieve this goal, organizations must place a high value on being recognized as one of the top places to work. By fostering a supportive environment, embracing individual growth and ensuring a strong sense of community, Hebrew SeniorLife has earned this distinction multiple times. This commitment to excellence translates into superior care for residents and solidifies the organization’s reputation as an employer of choice in the Greater Boston area.

Hebrew SeniorLife’s approach to cultivating a culture where nurses love their work offers valuable insights for the industry. By prioritizing career growth, providing educational opportunities, and fostering a supportive community, the organization has successfully created an environment where nurses thrive.

As the healthcare sector grapples with the nurse shortage, implementing similar initiatives can help attract and retain talented professionals while ensuring exceptional care for older adults. Together, let’s build a future where nurses are empowered and valued, and our healthcare system flourishes.

Tabitha Fineberg, MHA, MSEd, is the administrative director, academic programs, at nonprofit Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston’s only medical center focused on seniors, and Harvard Medical School affiliate, where she leads the organization’s educational offerings.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living guest column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.

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