Nurses' perceptions of factors that encourage or discourage registered nurses to remain in practice in a public hospital setting : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing at Massey University
As a registered nurse with over twenty years in clinical practice I was concerned at the lack of experienced nurses employed in public hospital settings. There appeared to be a stability in the workforce in terms of employment of nurses but this did not reflect the experience of the nurses employed there. Hospital settings are the predominant employment area for registered nurses. Public hospitals are usually where new graduates from nursing programmes begin their nursing experience. They require the support and mentoring of experienced nurses to guide their progression from a novice practitioner to an experienced practitioner. This exploratory pilot study was designed to determine a) what factors encouraged or discouraged registered nurses from remaining in practice in a specific public hospital setting and b) what recent changes in the work environment were perceived as positive or negative. Three focus groups were utilised consisting of experienced registered nurses with more than five years experience, new graduate nurses of less than twelve months experience, and Maori registered nurses. The use of focus group interviews allowed the researcher to gain knowledge of the participants' attitudes, values and perceptions of the particular topic in a non threatening environment. Krueger (1988) and Morgan (1988) identified characteristics of a focus group as being people who possess certain characteristics and who provide data of a qualitative nature in a focused discussion. Questions concerning participants' perceptions of changes over the last twelve months and factors enhancing or reducing job satisfaction and morale were used to initiate discussion. These were followed up by questions to elicit more specific information. Common themes and ideas were identified from each group and summarised by the groups at the end of the interview. The cut and paste method was used to collate the data for analysis. Results of the study indicate that all three groups were encouraged by job security, professional development, and professional autonomy while discouraged by internal politics, external politics and political correctness. All of these factors contributed overall to the theme of job satisfaction. Communication was an underlining problem for all three groups. Recommendations resulting from the findings of this study include: orientation and professional development programmes; adequate resources in terms of equipment and staff skill mix; and clearly defined lines of communication.