Background: Registered Nurses (RNs) comprise the largest group of health care providers in the US. The shortage of RNs is expected to worsen to 29% by 2020. Many nurses depart practice prior to retirement. Previous research has linked professional turnover to various aspects of job satisfaction. Purpose: This study sought to understand and describe the decision to leave nursing. Design/Methods: This Case Study examined the experience of nurses who had allowed their license to lapse. Potential participants had been licensed RNs, registered in the State of Minnesota younger than age 59 at the time of recruitment. All six potential informants who responded agreed to participate. All participants were white, all but one were female. Participants’ ages ranged from 35 – 55. Each was interviewed once. Each interview was audio taped and transcribed. Field notes were documented by the researcher after each interview. A reflexive journal was maintained during the analysis of the data. Findings: Analysis of participants’ stories revealed that they had departed practice following an overall experience of professional disillusionment. Three major themes were discovered. The first was challenges to personal and professional values which was supported by subthemes of inability to provide quality care, clinical nursing competes with life and family, and lack of professional self-fulfillment. The second major theme was workplace stressors which was supported by subthemes of disrespect from the public and other health care professionals and stress, workload, and unsafe practices. The third major theme was life after nursing: reconstituting the caring passion. This theme was supported by subthemes of nurse as identity – a nurse is who I am, caring as a way of being in the world, and transfer of knowledge, skills, and work ethic. Conclusions: It is clear from the stories shared by the former nurses that many of the factors driving the choice to leave are amenable to intervention. Workplace policies must be developed and enforced to ensure a professional working environment in which nurses are expected and able to provide the highest quality of care. Nursing must continue to support workplace environments and policies that foster respectful communication and behavior.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2012. Major: Nursing. Advisor: Cynthia J. Peden-McAlpine, PhD, RN. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 137 pages, appendices A-C.
Muster, Robert James.
Violation of personal and professional nursing values: six case studies of nurses who have left nursing.
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