RNs and LPNs: emotional exhaustion and intention to leave

J Nurs Manag. 2016 Apr;24(3):393-9. doi: 10.1111/jonm.12334. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


Aims: To describe and compare registered nurse (RN) and licensed practical nurse (LPN) emotional exhaustion, intention to leave and reasons for leaving.

Background: Different skill mix/care delivery models are being used to address nurse shortages and rising health-care costs. Skill mix may include RNs and LPNs. More LPNs are being employed in areas, such as acute care, that have been previously staffed by all RNs. Little is known about nurse outcomes since the introduction of LPNs to acute care settings.

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional correlational design. A stratified, random sample of acute care nurses completed surveys via Fluidsurveys. The survey was modelled after the RN4CAST nursing workforce survey.

Results: For both groups of nurses higher levels of emotional exhaustion were associated with intention to leave and workload was the most frequent reason cited for intention to leave. More RNs than LPNs cited career advancement as a reason to leave, and more LPNs than RNs identified poor salary as a reason to leave.

Conclusions: Emotional exhaustion is linked to intention to leave health care.

Implications for nursing management: Nurse managers should address work environment factors associated with turnover intentions, such as professional development opportunities and shared decision-making.

Keywords: emotional exhaustion; intention to leave; licensed practical nurses; reasons for intention to leave; registered nurses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Licensed Practical Nurses / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Personnel Turnover*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires