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‘Being young’: a qualitative study of younger nurses' experiences in the workplace


Jill Clendon, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, PO Box 2128, Wellington 6140, New Zealand; Tel: 64-3-5463941; Fax: 64-4-3829993; E-mail:


CLENDON J. & WALKER L. (2012) ‘Being young’: a qualitative study of younger nurses' experiences in the workplace. International Nursing Review

Aim:  The overall goal of this study was to obtain a greater understanding of the experiences of nurses aged under 30 in the New Zealand workforce with a view to developing age-appropriate retention strategies.

Background:  Nurses aged under 30 constitute around 10% of the world's nursing workforce yet little is known about their experiences in the workplace. Poor retention of younger nurses is a cause for concern. The implications of the perceptions and needs of this generation of nurses must be considered in order to ensure effective succession planning.

Methods:  An explorative descriptive design framed within a broad qualitative methodology was utilized to explore experiences of younger nurses in the New Zealand workforce. Data were analysed thematically.

Findings and discussion:  Findings are reported under five themes: challenges of nursing, rewards of nursing, being young, coping and addressing generational differences. The study provides new knowledge about the experiences of younger nurses in the workforce and in particular the challenges facing younger Asian nurses.

Conclusions:  Managers and nurse leaders must address broader workforce issues as well as improving support for younger nurses to help improve younger nurse retention. Strategies designed to extend and challenge younger nurses in the workplace such as professional development and project work will also help, but will only be effective if nurses are given sufficient paid time to undertake this work. Being Asian provides added challenges for younger nurses in New Zealand and further research into the experiences of this subgroup is highly recommended.