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'Attachment to healing' influences nursing staff rentention

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Staff retention of hospital nurses is influenced by age, although no single factor can be pinpointed, according to a study.

The only universal influence on whether an individual continues working in the profession is “a strong attachment to healing”, research involving 900 nurses shows.

Seven variables, considered potentially influential to a hospital nurse’s choice to remain in the job, were investigated.

Researchers concluded that if employers, such as the NHS, wish to retain nurses, they must build on the personal attachment staff members have to their profession.

Older hospital nurses tend to be more influenced by a larger number of factors than younger staff, which determined their likelihood of staying in the job.

Flexible arrangements for working was not found to be a particularly significant variable in retention of staff.

The study authors say their research, conducted among three generations of nurses in Australia, provides governments and other healthcare providers with evidence that points to a solution to the worldwide shortage of nurses.

“Our findings, which we believe may be applicable to many international hospitals, show that there is no single driver behind nurse retention,” says co-author Dr Kate Shacklock, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations and Human Resources at Griffith University, Queensland.

“Older nurses were more likely to be influenced by a larger number of factors than younger nurses and flexible working arrangements, which have been suggested by some as a possible solution to retention issues, were not deemed significant by any of the three age groups.

“However, one clear message emerged, that nurses feel a strong attachment to healing and to working in the nursing profession. 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.”


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Australia is a different country and culture. My friends who are nurses in Australia describe a very different working environment. There is less of a blame culture and a more mature open and learning approach to problems. Nurses are empowered to make decisions and supported to do so. They appear happy and feel they are doing a good job!
    In this country both our regulator and employers will blame the nurse at the "coal face" and fail to take into account the pressure of the working conditions imposed by them which includes, staffing levels, inflexibility in working conditions and frequent and unfair alterations to roles which adversly affect a nurse's pay without consultation.
    There is no genuine appeals process and there is a closed shop approach and draconian response to people trying to highlight potential problems/risks and poor care. This prevents any learning in the organisations and perpetuates the poor care as evidenced by the current cost to the NHSLA and Insurance Companies of proven negligence cases. £1 billion in NHS alone in 2010/11 with potentially £16.5 billion if the NHS lost all the cases against it at the moment. (Times 12/1/12)
    Studies at Mt Syon, NY, USA many years ago did show that the ability to be flexible in their working lives was importamnt to nurses.
    I am sure it is a combination of things, many of which we get wrong in the UK.
    It was suggested many years ago that a menu of options could be offered to staff so that they could manage their work/life better.
    I remain anonymous as I have observed that many of these discussions become unpleasant.

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