New RNs report greater commitment to employers—but will it last?

Study: Newly licensed nurses had positive view of work environment during recession

Topics: Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Workforce, Staffing, Labor Expense, Turnover, Recruitment and Retention, Nursing

March 6, 2012

A recent study in the American Journal of Nursing found that newly licensed RNs reported higher commitment to their employer during the recession, but the authors warn that turnover could increase dramatically as the economy improves.

The study was part of the RN Work Project, a Robert  Wood Johnson Foundation-funded initiative. University of Buffalo and New York University researchers analyzed results from two surveys of newly licensed RNs across 15 states: one from 2006—before the recession—and one from 2009, during the recession.

According to the results, RNs in the 2009 cohort reported a greater intent to stay with their current employers than RNs in the 2006 cohort. However, the findings showed that RNs surveyed in 2009 were more likely to be searching for other jobs, even though they perceived fewer job opportunities than the earlier group.

"This lack of job options might have led newly licensed RNs to feel more organizational commitment," the authors said, noting that many nurses could have been reluctant to leave a secure position.

Although new RNs in 2009 reported having a more positive view of their work environment and better nurse-physician relationships than new RNs in 2006, the study notes that job satisfaction did not significantly improve during the recession.

As the economy improves, the researchers predict that RNs who were delaying job changes once again will consider new positions, which could drive up hospital staff turnover. They urge hospitals to "take this opportunity to continue to improve RNs' working conditions and wages, and to implement programs that will increase retention" (Nurse.com News, 3/5; AHA News, 3/5; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation release, 3/5).

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