Purpose: Vacancy rates for nurses in the English-speaking Caribbean are estimated at 30% with turnover typically associated with migration. The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of hospital-based registered nurses (RNs) in the sub-region, their practice environment and turnover intention in two and five years, respectively, and to determine the relationships among practice environment characteristics and turnover intention.
Design: A descriptive correlational design was used with self-reported questionnaires from a convenience sample of 301 RNs working in hospitals in four English speaking Eastern Caribbean countries. Single-item visual analog scales (VAS) were used to measure turnover intention in 2 years and 5 years. The Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index (PES-NWI) measured the characteristics in the practice environment.
Findings: The mean age of the nurses was 32.5 (SD= 6.75) years. Most nurses (58.8%) were single and 91.4% had relatives living abroad. Nurses scored three PES-NWI subscales < 2.5, indicating a less positive practice environment: resource adequacy, nurse participation in hospital affairs, and nurse managers’ ability, leadership, and support. The subscale for collegial nurse-physician relations received the best rating (mean = 2.61, SD= .62). For 2-year intention to leave, the mean rating on the 100-mm VAS was 63.2, while that for the 5-year intention to leave was 65.6. No significant correlations were found among four of the five PES-NWI subscales and turnover intention in 2 and 5 years.
Conclusions: The practice environment, while generally unfavorable, is not associated with the nurses’ intention to leave their jobs. These findings support the current policy position that calls for managing turnover among nurses. Nursing and health system administrators should assess, plan, and implement workforce policies to slow the outflow of nurses.
Clinical Relevance: Initiatives to improve the work environment and the delivery of high-quality care are important to RNs in the Eastern Caribbean. Managing the negative impact of continuous outflow of nurses through turnover requires long-term coordinated policy and human resource development and management initiatives to sustain the supply of RNs in the subregion.