Tenure, mobility and retention of nurses in Queensland, Australia: 2001 and 2004

Rob Eley, Elizabeth Buikstra, Ashley Plank, Desley Hegney, Victoria Parker
Journal of Nursing Management 2007, 15 (3): 285-93

AIM: Data were collected on tenure, mobility and retention of the nursing workforce in Queensland to aid strategic planning by the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU).

BACKGROUND: Shortages of nurses negatively affect the health outcomes of patients. Population rise is increasing the demand for nurses in Queensland. The supply of nurses is affected by recruitment of new and returning nurses, retention of the existing workforce and mobility within institutions.

METHODS: A self-reporting, postal survey was undertaken by the QNU members from the major employment sectors of aged care, public acute and community health and private acute and community health.

RESULTS: Only 60% of nurses had been with their current employer more than 5 years. In contrast 90% had been in nursing for 5 years or more and most (80%) expected to remain in nursing for at least another 5 years. Breaks from nursing were common and part-time positions in the private and aged care sectors offered flexibility.

CONCLUSION: The study demonstrated a mobile nursing workforce in Queensland although data on tenure and future time in nursing suggested that retention in the industry was high. Concern is expressed for replacement of an ageing nursing population.

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