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Keywords:

  • attrition;
  • caring;
  • feminism;
  • psychology;
  • personal construct theory

The selection and retention of suitable nurses has occupied the thoughts of many people who have a vested interest in maintaining standards and avoiding loss of resources. By drawing conclusions from inadequate findings inappropriate recommendations may be made. In a study that considers the psychological profiles of nurses, it would appear that it is self-esteem and a ’need to be needed’ that is a crucial facet of nurses ability to cope with the job of nursing; a job that encourages the characteristics of individualism, in a working environment involving caring, that epitomises the values of connectedness. This paradox leads to nurses’ inability to cope and subsequently leave the profession using one of the many acceptable labels that are widely documented. Acceptance of the underlying causes for this attrition would necessitate better support services for vulnerable nurses allowing them to recognize their own needs, and gain a personal understanding of how their vulnerability might echo that of people in their care.