<p><img src="//relias.innocraft.cloud/piwik.php?idsite=2&amp;rec=1" style="border:0;" alt=""> How Trinity West Michigan, Mercy Health St. Mary’s Used Relias Assessments to Lower Turnover, Improve Satisfaction and Increase Retention of New Grad Nurses

Client interview with Theresa McGuire, MSN, RN-BC, Magnet Program Coordinator and Vizient RN Residency Program Coordinator, Trinity West Michigan, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.



Mercy Health Saint Mary’s is a 344-bed, acute care teaching hospital in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a member of Trinity Health, the fourth largest Catholic health care system in the country. Mercy Health received its initial Magnet® designation for nursing excellence in May 2013. With over 2,500 employees, the hospital employs approximately 1,200 nurses.



With the national nurse turnover rate rising to nearly 17%, health systems across the country are investing in ways to increase retention. Understanding that replacing a new nurse can cost up to $88,000, Mercy Health leadership wanted to take significant steps to ensure nurses are hired, onboarded, and developed in a way that puts them on a path for success. In particular, Mercy Health wanted to positively influence new grad nurses entering its nurse residency program at the very beginning of their career.

“We believe that recruiting and onboarding top talent first starts with hiring for our culture”



According to Mercy Health’s Theresa McGuire, “We believe that recruiting and onboarding top talent first starts with hiring for our culture.” To accomplish this, Human Resources and Nursing Departments needed to work in partnership to attract nurses who felt connected to the hospital’s mission, vision, and values.

The goal of the new program was to assure all new nurses had a seamless transition to practice and an opportunity to “do what they do best every day.”

Prior to implementing Relias Assessments, HR used other evidence-based hiring tools, selecting the best candidates for cultural fit and basing potential placement on the stated preferences of the new graduate RNs. Then, they organized a hiring extravaganza, where nurse managers would select new hires from the candidate pool created by HR. Candidates listed their top three preferences and HR offered interviews with nurse managers in at least one of the three units.



With Relias Assessments in place, a small group of HR and nursing leaders received initial education and training with customer service and support from Relias Assessments. For 20 months, Mercy Health gathered data and made adjustments on the hiring extravaganza process. Candidates took the Relias Assessments before interviews were scheduled. After the first round was completed, the training was expanded to include all leaders involved in RN Resident hiring.

After initial implementation, a few additional structural adjustments were made to the program to all allow HR to focus on what it does best—finding the best candidates and assessing for cultural fit. A new team, the Clinical Review Team (CRT), was developed to select candidates and align Relias Assessments scores to the stated nursing specialty preferences for the RN Residents.

If there is a match, CRT recommends hire. If scores indicate the desired nursing specialty is not a good fit, these RN Residents are invited to a second level interview team where frank, compassionate conversations take place to assure best alignment for both the RN resident and the hospital.



After full implementation, turnover continues to be below national average at 8% with a desired improvement in nurse retention coupled with RN satisfaction in chosen specialty.

Relias Assessments helped identify the strongest candidates and predict their success prior to independent practice. After HR identified candidates with the best cultural fit, nurse managers could identify top performers in 40 different clinical areas and gain insight into candidates’ situational awareness and critical thinking skills specific to that specialty.

While many nurses enter their specialty because it may have been a childhood dream or because there was an immediate vacancy, it’s not always the best fit for the individual nurse. Mercy Health used Relias Assessments to identify best matches for a nurse and a specialty based on their behavioral competencies.

Once these competencies are identified, nurses can be placed into units where it’s statistically predicted they will be happy. Added McGuire, “Nurses are able to enjoy their job and the literature is very clear that all great patient outcomes are associated with that.”

According to McGuire, Mercy Health is committed to helping both new and experienced nurses find their best selves, meaning they are in a position in which they can excel and that they love.

In addition to using Relias Assessments to identify top performers and match them to the specialties they fit best, Mercy Health uses the results to customize onboarding. This lets them focus training on the practice areas where they need extra education.

Says McGuire, “Relias Assessments is an evidence-based tool that allows nurse managers, educators, HR to make smart hiring decisions.”


Mercy Health St. Mary's

Michigan Acute Care


Mercy Health looked to Relias Assessments' comprehensive pre-hire assessments to impact nurses in three ways:
  • Find the best candidates to reduce turnover.
  • Match to the best fit to increase job satisfaction.
  • Support nurses in finding their best selves to increase retention.
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