Why do nurses change jobs? An empirical study on determinants of specific nurses' post-exit destinations


  • Vincent Homburg MSc, PhD,

    Associate Professor, Corresponding author
    • Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
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  • Beatrice van der Heijden MSc, PhD,

    Professor of Strategic HRM
    1. Nijmegen School of Management, Institute for Management Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
    2. School of Management, Open Universiteit in the Netherlands, Heerlen, the Netherlands
    3. School of Management and Governance, Business Administration, Department of Strategic HRM, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands
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  • Lukas Valkenburg BBA, MSc

    Health Care Consultant
    1. Studelta, Maastricht, the Netherlands
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Vincent Homburg

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Public Administration

PO Box 1738

3000DR Rotterdam

the Netherlands

E-mail: homburg@fsw.eur.nl



The aims of this paper are, first, to identify the determinants of the ‘intention to leave’ of nurses working at a general hospital, and, second, to provide recommendations for various stakeholders targeting prevention of premature leaving to various post-exit destinations.


Nurse turnover is a serious problem, especially given the increased need for professional medical care because of demographic changes, and puts severe pressure on health-care management staff. In order to meet future requirements for nursing staff, it is of utmost importance to empirically study their intention to leave either their department or hospital, and to identify the determinants of these various intentions to leave.


A cross-sectional survey was completed by 318 nurses working at various departments at a general hospital in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Data were collected in May 2011. Using binary regression analysis, various determinants of nurses' reported post-exit career choices could be identified.


Nurses' intention to leave is determined by their general satisfaction with management and leadership quality, their satisfaction with pay and benefits, their job satisfaction and work-to-home interference issues they have to deal with, but not by career development opportunities.

Implications for nursing management

Preventing nurses from leaving their department or hospital requires careful attention from management and human resources professionals working in hospitals. In particular, the line managers who actually supervise nurses on a daily basis are key in ensuring that nurses are satisfied with their management and with the rewards they receive, and are able to cope with work–home interference.