Why Do Nurse Managers Stay?

Building a Model of Engagement

Understanding how to retain nurse managers is critical for organizations addressing the nursing shortage. Through in-depth interviews, the researchers identify 10 behaviors of high-performing long-term managers. These results may help build a model for promoting longevity and excellence in staff.

Given the current and projected shortage of nurses, the short tenures of nursing managers is of prime concern. To gain a fresh perspective on why nurse managers leave, these researchers sought to build a model of nurse manager engagement. Data were collected from in-depth interviews with 30 long-term high-performing nurse managers in six hospital settings.

An analysis of the interviews identified 10 behaviors that epitomized the characteristics of long-term nurse managers. These included:

  • the capacity to achieve gratification from work done by their staff;
  • an ability to set realistic boundaries;
  • an ability to keep emotions in check;
  • an ability to understand another's point of view;
  • a desire to embrace and seek change; and
  • a passion for their work.

The study reveals that an optimistic explanatory working style allows nurse managers to better handle stress and face the challenges of their job. The interview tool yielded rich and productive data, which suggests that leadership may apply it to better understand the needs of their nurse manager population. The authors believe that by building on this model, organizations can begin to address the root causes of the nursing shortage and develop longevity and excellence in more managers.