Newly Licensed RNs Describe What They Like Best about Being a Nurse

Some 25 percent of newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) leave their first job within two years. Most (92%) take another job in nursing, suggesting that they are disenchanted with their employers but not with nursing. Nursing students’ expectations of nursing practice—to provide care that is patient centered, evidence based, high quality, and safe, delivered as part of an interdisciplinary team, and aided by information technologies— are not being met by their employers.

Investigators analyzed the responses of 1,152 nurses in 15 states to an open-ended question added to another study: “What is the best part of being a nurse?” Several themes emerged. NLRNs say they:

  • Value holistic and varied expressions of caring—physical, mental, psychosocial and spiritual.
  • Want to be part of an autonomous and collaborative practice.
  • Want to use diverse knowledge and skills—including communication, decision-making, catching mistakes, critical thinking, problem solving, patient education and intuition—to impact patient outcomes.
  • Need a job that is secure and intellectually stimulating, involving recognition through external rewards and opportunities for professional advancement.

“Creating opportunities for NLRNs to do what is most enjoyable in everyday practice may close the gap between the disproportionately large organizational versus professional turnover of NLRNs,” the authors conclude.