National Study to Track Career Change Among Newly Licensed Nurses

By Christine Tassone Kovner, R.N., Ph.D., FAAN, College of Nursing, New York University and Carol Brewer, RN, Ph.D., School of Nursing University of Buffalo

The authors are the co-principal investigators of this study.

Understanding the needs and challenges of newly licensed nurses is a priority to meet the goal of balancing the supply of and demand for RNs. This study aims to examine the first work settings of newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) to learn what influences their first job choice and where they move to afterwards. Is the setting the same or different, and is it in or out of nursing? We are also interested in why NLRNs leave: what was more attractive about the second setting?

The sample includes RNs who obtained their first license to practice as RNs between August 1, 2004 and July 31, 2005. We collected information from 3,266 eligible respondents from 35 states for a 56 percent response rate. Data were collected in the winter of 2006.

Here, we provide early findings from our research, including these interesting facts:

  • 88 percent of NLRNs worked in the hospital setting, and most were staff nurses.
  • For them, the most important work characteristics are the “ability to do the job well” and “being rewarded fairly for the work.”
  • While 58.9 percent were satisfied or very satisfied, when asked if they were free to go into any job they wanted 41.5 percent answered that they would want another job.
  • We found that 37.1 percent intend to search for a new position in one year.
  • For those who had left their first job, poor management was the top reason for leaving their first job.