Hospital workplace experiences of registered nurses that have contributed to their resignation in the Durban metropolitan area

Curationis. 2006 Nov;29(4):70-81.


Title: Hospital workplace experiences of registered nurses that have contributed to their resignation in the Durban Metropolitan Area.

Aim: The purpose of this research was to explore and describe the hospital workplace experiences that had contributed to the resignations of Registered Nurses in the Durban Metropolitan Area.

Methodology: The broad perspective governing this research is qualitative in nature. The researcher employed a phenomenological approach specifically because the researcher was interested in identifying, describing and understanding the subjective experiences of individual nurses at the two Private and two Provincial health care institutions selected to participate in the study - in respect of their decision (s) to resign from their employment, and/or to leave the nursing profession. Two semistructured interviews were conducted with each participant by the researcher. The researcher applied the principle of theoretical saturation and a total of fifteen participants were interviewed and thirty interviews were conducted. Experiential themes and subthemes in the data were identified by a process of meaning condensation, and the data were managed by means of a qualitative software package - NVIVO (QSR - NUD*IST).

Findings: The resignations of registered nurses in the Durban Metropolitan Area were found to be linked to their respective hospital workplace experiences. These experiences related to their physical working conditions and environment and included the following: unsupportive management structures, autocratic and dehumanizing management styles, negative stereotypy of nurses and the nursing profession, lack of autonomy in the workplace, professional jealousies and fractures within the profession, sub-optimal physical working conditions and shortage of staff, equipment and lack of appropriate surgical supplies, concerns regarding occupational safety e.g. the increasing exposure of health care personnel to HIV and AIDS; lack of opportunities for promotion or continuing one's professional education, the experience of workplace violence--predominantly in the form of verbal and psychological abuse, inaccurate systems of performance assessment (Joint Performance Management, Reports, Personal Profile systems)--compounded by favouritism and racism; and inadequate remuneration.

Conclusion: In terms of the findings of this study, the participants' lived experiences in terms of their respective hospital workplace experiences indicated that neither the maintenance factors nor the motivator factors were optimally represented, experienced or enjoyed in their respective workplaces. In terms of Herzberg's Motivator-Maintenance theory, the registered nurses who participated in this study may be described as being 'not satisfied' and 'dissatisfied' with their hospital workplace experiences, physical conditions and environment. A number of recommendations pertaining to strategies for the retention of registered nurses were made for the consideration of both Provincial and Private health care authorities, hospital management structures and the nursing profession respectively. Recommendations for further nursing research were also made.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Career Mobility
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Health Facility Environment / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Urban / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Nurse Administrators / organization & administration
  • Nurse Administrators / psychology
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital* / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital* / psychology
  • Occupational Health
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration
  • Personnel Turnover* / statistics & numerical data
  • Qualitative Research
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Social Support
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace* / organization & administration
  • Workplace* / psychology