The role of work environment in keeping newly licensed RNs in nursing: a questionnaire survey

Int J Nurs Stud. 2013 Dec;50(12):1678-88. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 May 9.


Background: In prior studies, newly licensed registered nurses (RNs) describe their job as being stressful. Little is known about how their perceptions of the hospital work environment affect their commitment to nursing.

Objectives: To assess the influence of hospital work environment on newly licensed RN's commitment to nursing and intent to leave nursing.

Design: Correlational survey.

Settings: Newly licensed RNs working in hospitals in Florida, United States.

Participants: 40% random sample of all RNs newly licensed in 2006.

Methods: The survey was mailed out in 2008. Dependent variables were indicators of professional commitment and intent to leave nursing. Independent variables were individual, organizational, and work environment characteristics and perceptions (job difficulty, job demands and job control). Statistical analysis used ordinary least squares regressions. Level of significance was set at p<0.05.

Results: Job difficulty and job demand were significantly related to a lower commitment to nursing and a greater intent to leave nursing, and vice versa for job control. The strongest ranked of the job difficulties items were: incorrect instructions, organizational rules, lack of supervisor support, and inadequate help from others. Workload and other items were significant, but ranked lower. The strongest ranked of the job pressure items were: "having no time to get things done" and "having to do more than can be done well." The strongest ranked of job control items were "ability to act independent of others." Nurses with positive orientation experiences and those working the day shift and more hours were less likely to intend to leave nursing and more likely to be committed to nursing. Significant demographic characteristics related to professional commitment were race and health.

Conclusions: Negative perceptions of the work environment were strong predictors of intent to leave nursing and a lower commitment to nursing among newly licensed RNs. These results indicate that retention of newly licensed RNs in nursing can be improved through changes in the work environment that remove obstacles to care-giving, increase resources and autonomy, and reduce workload and other job pressure factors.

Keywords: Job control; Job demands; Job difficulties; Job satisfaction; Newly licensed RNs; Nursing work environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Florida
  • Licensure*
  • Nursing Staff / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace*