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Why younger nurses quit nursing.

Poor rostering, dislike of shift work, bullying and unsafe workloads are among the reasons nurses under 30 have quit the profession altogether.

Arising out of findings from its comprehensive survey of younger nurses, reported earlier this year, (1) and two focus groups of younger nurses, NZNO conducted another survey of more than 100 nurses under 30. The nurses surveyed had resigned from NZNO in the last two years, stating they were leaving nursing, and they had valid email addresses. The responses found that a third of young nurses had left the profession temporarily (mainly due to child care and family reasons), a further third had, in fact, returned to nursing, mainly in other countries. However, around a third did not intend to return, saying poor rostering, dislike of shift work, bullying and unsafe workloads had contributed significantly to their decision to leave the profession.

One respondent stated: "Even though I was perfectly happy with the job itself, the main reason which made me want to have a change was because of the poor rostering. I took the chance and applied for o job in o completely different area. Since my nursing roster was like APPNNN in a row, I felt like jet legged and fatigued, I wasn't understood or supported and wasn't being taken seriously when I spoke to the manager on different occasions about the rosters ..."

Another said: "I chose to leave the job I loved due to the rostering. My body really couldn't cope working six days in a row ... It may just look like just a roster and I should just cope with it if I'm committed to nursing, but really in a long-term point of view, it puts physical and emotional stress on nurses, even just by looking at some of the rosters, without doing it ..."

Another called on NZNO to take action on rostering. "I strongly believe NZNO should come out with some guidelines of how nurse managers should do their rosters to avoid more nurses from having career change or job change due to the rostering. It's nothing new, but it really is a shame."

NZNO researcher Leonie Walker, who conducted the survey, said evidence was mounting that, in particular, elements around managing shift work were contributing significantly to the loss of younger nurses from the profession.

"Better rostering, family friendly rostering, flexible work options, and easier routes to return to nursing are crucial to ensure the predicted nursing workforce and skills gap do not coincide, catastrophically, with the rise in health care demand as a result of New Zealand's ageing population," Walker said.

Losing younger nurses from the profession due to poor rostering practices is not acceptable, according to NZNO's professional services manager Susanne Trim.

"NZNO does have rostering guidelines and these are included in employment agreements and/or organisational policy. However, in practice, many rosters are developed along social rostering arrangements. It is difficult to marry sound Fostering standards that will achieve fair and reasonable rosters, with requests from nurses to change rosters to suit their personal lives. In that situation, someone always draws the short straw. Often that is newer staff members or those who work full time--they can be left to fill the gaps. Clearly the balance was not right for these nurses," Trim said.

She advised nurses experiencing rosters which did not comply with their employment agreements to contact their NZNO organiser.


(1) Clendon 2. and Walker, L. (2011 a) Characteristics and perceptions of younger nurses in New Zealand: Implications for retention. Kai Tiaki Nursing Research; 2: 1, pp 4-12.
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Title Annotation:NEWS AND EVENTS
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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