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Australian study identifies nursing retention rates

Last Updated: 19-11-2013

Australian study identifies nursing retention rates

The secret to improving hospital nurse retention rates is to build on nurses’ strong attachment to healing and the profession, according to the results of an Australian study.

The study, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, found dedication to the profession was the main message from nurses and it recommended management build upon that foundation to enable nurses to gain more meaning and value from their work.

The researchers also suggested organisations tailor different retention strategies to three key age groups, including Baby Boomers, 48 to 66 years, Generation X, 33 to 47 years, and Generation Y, under 32 years, instead of a one-size-fits-all policy.

Researchers Dr Kate Shacklock and Dr Yvonne Brunetto surveyed 900 nurses from seven private hospitals across four states. Most were women, over

42 years of age, working as Registered Nurses, and working between five and eight shifts a week.

The large scale survey of nurses comes as developed countries across the world continue to battle a shortage of nurses.

Dr Shacklock, a Griffith University Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations and Human Resources, said the study, which could be applicable to many international hospitals, showed there was no single driver behind nurse retention.

“One clear message emerged - that nurses feel a strong attachment to healing and to working in the nursing profession,” she said.

“This was the only variable identified by all three age groups. We believe that strategies that build on this and the other variables identified in our study may improve hospital retention rates."

The study found older Baby Boomers’ intentions to continue working as nurses were affected by variables such as their commitment to healing and nursing, work-family conflict, being allowed to decide how and when to carry out tasks, how well they get along with colleagues and the importance of working.

Generation X nurses identified their commitment to healing and nursing and the quality of their relationship with their supervisor while Generation Y singled out their commitment to healing and nursing.

Dr Shacklock said flexible working arrangements, which have been suggested by some as a possible solution to retention issues, did not prove to be a significant influence in any of the age groups.

“The results of our study provide compelling arguments for changes to how governments and healthcare providers tackle the growing challenges posed by the global nursing shortage,” said Dr Brunetto, a Southern Cross University Associate Professor in the School of Commerce and Management.

To view the study visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05709.x/pdf

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