The motivations to nurse: an exploration of factors amongst undergraduate students, registered nurses and nurse managers

Authors

  • JENNIFER M. NEWTON EdD, RNT, RN,

    1. ARC Australian Postdoctoral Industry Fellow, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Vic.
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  • CHERENE M. KELLY BA (Hons),

    1. Research Assistant, Southern Health, Melbourne, Vic.
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  • ANNE K. KREMSER MN, RN,

    1. Research Assistant, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Vic.
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  • BRIAN JOLLY PhD,

    1. Professor of Medical Education and Director, Centre for Medical and Health Science Education, Monash University, Clayton, Vic.
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  • STEPHEN BILLETT PhD

    1. Professor of Adult and Vocational Education, School of Education and Professional Studies, Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Qld, Australia
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Jennifer M. Newton
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Faculty of Medicine
Nursing and Health Sciences
Monash University
Peninsula Campus
Frankston
Victoria
Australia
E-mail: jenny.newton@med.monash.edu.au

Abstract

Aim  To identify what motivates individuals to engage in a nursing career.

Background  Recruitment and retention of nurses is a worldwide concern that is associated with several compounding factors, primarily the high attrition of its new graduates and an ageing workforce. Given these factors, it is necessary to understand why individuals choose to nurse, what keeps them engaged in nursing, and in what ways healthcare systems can support career development and retention.

Method  This paper presents initial interview data from a longitudinal multi method study with 29 undergraduate student nurses, 25 registered nurses (RNs), six Nurse Unit Managers (NUMs) and four Directors of Nursing (DoNs) from four hospitals across a healthcare organization in Australia.

Results  Thematic analysis yielded four key themes that were common to all participants: (1) a desire to help, (2) caring, (3) sense of achievement and (4) self-validation.

Conclusions  These themes represented individuals’ motivation to enter nursing and sustain them in their careers as either nurses or managers.

Implications for nursing management  Managers need to be cognisant of nurses’ underlying values and motivators in addressing recruitment and retention issues. Strategies need to be considered at both unit and organizational levels to ensure that the ‘desire to care’ does not become lost.

Ancillary