Why Are Nurses Leaving

5127 Words21 Pages
Carol Isaac MacKusick Ptlene Minick

Why Are Nurses Leaving? Findings From an Initial Qualitative Study on Nursing Attrition
The nursing shortage remains problematic, yet research with nurses no longer in clinical practice is scarce. The purpose of this study was to understand the factors influencing the decision of registered nurses (RNs) to leave clinical nursing. A phenomenological research design was chosen to reveal the complex phenomena influencing the RNs’ decisions to leave clinical nursing practice. Interviews were conducted with RNs who were no longer practicing clinically.


n the United States, nursing workforce projections indicate the registered nurse (RN) shortage may exceed 500,000 RNs by 2025 (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2010; Cipriano, 2006; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002). In 2008, the national RN vacancy rate in the United States was greater than 8% (AACN, 2010). Evidence suggests experiences as a newly licensed RN directly impact individual perceptions related to the profession (Cowin & Hengstberger-Sims, 2006). An estimated 30%-50% of all new RNs elect either to change positions or leave nursing completely within the first 3 years of clinical practice (AACN, 2003; Aiken, Clarke, Sloane, Sochalski, & Silber, 2002; Cipriano, 2006; Cowin & Hengstberger-Sims, 2006). While an abundance of data exist regarding the RN who stays at the bedside, few studies have explored the perceptions of the RN who decides to leave clinical nursing. Understanding factors associated with RNs’ practice decisions is the first step necessary in developing effective nursing-retention strategies.

The purpose of this study was to identify the factors influencing the decision of RNs to leave clinical nursing practice. Nurses who had elected to leave clinical nursing were interviewed at the setting of their

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