A study of aspects of the career development and job satisfaction of registered nurses practising in community settings. The study surveys the literature on career development and job satisfaction, deriving a new model of career development which allows for patterns of growth and nongrowth in a career; then applies this model to a particular work field - that of registered nurses practising in community settings, postulating that a pattern of nongrowth or occupational role integration (i.e. where the role incumbent ceases to discriminate between her experience of her job and her expectations of it), will be applicable to the majority of nurses in the population studied. Four research hypotheses, designed to demonstrate career nongrowth, were tested: (1) that there is no positive linear relationship between level of perceived autonomy and job satisfaction. (2) that there is no positive linear relationship between level of perceived challenge and job satisfaction. (3) where subjects report low job satisfaction the length of tenure is short and perceived autonomy and perceived challenge are low. (4) where subjects reporthigh job satisfaction, the length of tenure is long, age is correspondingly high, but perceived autonomy and perceived challenge approximate the means of the total sample. The population selected for study was 'all registered nurses practising in community settings (with the exception of nurses in private employment, e.g. attached to nursing bureaus) in the Palmerston North Health District', the target population being located and the co-operation of nurses with the research proposal sought, in an initial letter to all likely employment agencies. The short form of the Job Diagnostic Survey (Hackman & Oldham, 1974), from which measures of perceived autonomy, perceived challenge and job satisfaction were obtained, and an accompanying biographical data sheet, were administered by reply-paid mail to all nurses in the target population who agreed to participate in the study (not necessarily a representative sample of the target population), with an 88% response rate. The results of the present study (based on N=63) support the hypotheses outlined above, indicating: (1) that perceived autonomy does not differ between subjects grouped according to levels of job satisfaction; (2) that there is a curvilinear relationship between perceived challenge and job satisfaction; and (3) that age and length of tenure are positively related to job satisfaction where subjects report being highly satisfied. The majority (75%) of nurses in the respondent sample report being either satisfied or highly satisfied in the absence of high levels of perceived challenge. Suggesting that high challenge in an occupational role is not a relevant job expectation for these nurses, and that little pressure for change in nursing roles may be expected from nurses in the respondent sample. The configuration of variables demonstrated in the results is consistent with the postulated pattern of career nongrowth or occupational role integration. A modal pattern of career development is postulated for the respondent sample, in which early occupational role integration occurs where there is perceived threat to a competent role identity, subsequent to career re-entry after a lengthy interval of nonpractice (median 11 years nonpractice for respondent sample). A brief discussion of the implications of occupational role integration, for the introduction of change in community nursing practice in New Zealand, is included.