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Don't Take Low Nurse Turnover Rates for Granted

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 27, 2012

The nursing shortage is over and a survey published in the American Journal of Nursing shows that nurses have a greater commitment to their employers than they did just a few years ago.

That's great news for hospitals, right?

"When turnover slows down, when the vacancy rates drop, nurse managers and leaders always breathe a sigh of relief," one of the study authors, Carol Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the School of Nursing at the University at Buffalo, tells HealthLeaders Media.

But digging into the study results tells a more complex story, Brewer suggests.

The research examined two surveys of new RNs in 15 states. The first was conducted in 2006 prior to the recession and the second was conducted in 2009 during the recession.

The two groups were demographically similar, but the second group of nurses reported significantly better health status, fewer injuries, working fewer hours, better nurse-physician relationships, and a better work environment. They also reported a higher level of intent to stay in their current jobs.

Despite all this, their incomes and their job satisfaction levels hadn't changed much. They were also more likely to be searching for a new job, and perceived fewer job opportunities than the earlier group.

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