Nursing News: New Study Published about Nurse Retention

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, June 7th, 2012

The American Journal of Nursing published findings from the RN Work Project, a ten-year longitudinal study of newly licensed registered nurses that began in 2006.

The RN Work Project is designed to learn more about nurses’ career patterns, including turnover and nurse retention. The results of this study were drawn from two surveys of new RNs in 15 states, one conducted in 2006 prior to the recession and the second conducted in 2009 during the recession.

The two groups of nurses were demographically similar, but the second group reported significantly better health status (23 percent rated their health as excellent compared with 19 percent of the first group) and fewer needle stick injuries, sprains, and strains.

The 2009 group also reported working an average of 52 hours less a year, reported better nurse-physician relationships, and perceived the work environment as significantly better. While the RNs surveyed in 2009 reported a higher level of intent to stay in their current jobs, they were also more likely to be searching for a new job than the RNs surveyed in 2006. They also perceived fewer job opportunities than the 2006 nurses.

The researchers note that the nursing shortage, which caused great concern for many years, has lessened in part because the recession has led many older RNs to delay retirement or to return to nursing. As the economy improves, many of those nurses will retire creating greater demand for new graduates.

As the recession eases and the job market opens up again, it’s likely that nurses who have been delaying changing jobs will begin looking for new positions, which could dramatically increase staff turnover. Healthcare organizations should take this opportunity to continue to implement programs that will increase retention.

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