Staying in nursing: what factors determine whether nurses intend to remain employed?


  • Matthew R. Carter,

    1. Matthew R. Carter PhD Senior Research Fellow Work and Organisational Psychology, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
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  • Ann E. Tourangeau

    1. Ann E. Tourangeau PhD RN Nursing Senior Career Researcher Ontario Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Ontario, Canada and Associate Professor Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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M.R. Carter: e-mail:


carter m.r. & tourangeau a.e. (2012) Staying in nursing: what factors determine whether nurses intend to remain employed?. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(7), 1589–1600.


Aim.  To test a model of eight thematic determinants of whether nurses intend to remain in nursing roles.

Background.  Despite the dramatic increase in the supply of nurses in England over the past decade, a combination of the economic downturn, funding constraints and more generally an ageing nursing population means that healthcare organizations are likely to encounter long-term problems in the recruitment and retention of nursing staff.

Design.  Survey.

Method.  Data were collected from a large staff survey conducted in the National Health Service in England between September–December 2009. A multi-level model was tested using MPlus statistical software on a sub-sample of 16,707 nurses drawn from 167 healthcare organizations.

Results.  Findings were generally supportive of the proposed model. Nurses who reported being psychologically engaged with their jobs reported a lower intention to leave their current job. The perceived availability of developmental opportunities, being able to achieve a good work-life balance and whether nurses’ encountered work pressures were also influencing factors on their turnover intentions. However, relationships formed with colleagues and patients displayed comparatively small relationships with turnover intentions.

Conclusion.  The focus at the local level needs to be on promoting employee engagement by equipping staff with the resources (physical and monetary) and control to enable them to perform their tasks to standards they aspire to and creating a work environment where staff are fully involved in the wider running of their organizations, communicating to staff that patient care is important and the top priority of the organization.