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How to Stop Unhappy Nurses From Leaving

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2013

The survey also reveals that nurses are eager to continue their nursing education in the near term (over the next one-to-three years). It found that 40% of nurses wanted to pursue an advanced degree.

Broken down by age, the numbers were impressive. Almost 70% of 19- to 39-year-old respondents planned to pursue more advanced degrees, with 37% of this age group saying that they planned to purse a master's degree in nursing.

In addition, the survey found that 28% of respondents are considering getting specialty certification in the next one-to-three years; 35% say they're already certified through their professional organization.

In other words, nurses are motivated; they yearn to learn. Harvard Business School professor and author Clayton Christensen describes motivation like this:"[it] means that you've got an engine inside of you that drives you to keep working in order to feel successful and to help the organization be successful. It causes you to keep at it through thick and thin. Motivators are things like, 'I have the opportunity to achieve important things,''I learn ways to be better,' and 'I'm an important part of a team.' If you have those kinds of experiences every day, you're motivated, and you'll be satisfied."

The findings of the AMN Healthcare survey are intriguing all by themselves, but smart nurse leaders can also use them to their advantage by harnessing their employees' career enthusiasm while also improving recruitment and retention.

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2 comments on "How to Stop Unhappy Nurses From Leaving"


Anne McDivitt (2/25/2013 at 2:58 AM)
1. It is true that nurses have these internal motivator within them. 2. Hospitals use this by getting free work from nurses. 3. If nurses really want a degree, they should use those hours that they spend at work doing free unpaid, volunteer work and go to school. 4. Nurses leave the workplace because of management pressure to do volunteer work. 5. The motivated nurse uses the hours wisely by getting a masters degree that will follow them in any institution. 6. The real problem is that nurse executives need to see RNs as professionals and if they give compensation as credits towards a degree, it's a win for the hospital to keep their smart nurses and a win for the nurse to get her degree. Hospitals with schools do that well. 7. Unfortunately nurse leaders that work for profit see nurses as liabilities rather than assets- sad but true.

Alice Peterson, RN, MPH, CHES, CMSRN (2/8/2013 at 1:41 PM)
All true! And I want to add, we must consider that the pyramid gets narrower at the top. In the future, when many more nurses have advanced degrees, will they be happy with the lower salaries and job titles at the bottom? Eventually, what happens when one asks, "There is a lot of competition for one job. When will I get to use these theories and skills I have learned at the executive level?""