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Health Policy. 2006 Nov;79(1):57-72. Epub 2006 Jan 4.

Retaining nurses in their employing hospitals and in the profession: effects of job preference, unpaid overtime, importance of earnings and stress.

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  • 1Human Resources and Management Area, MDG School of Business, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont. L8N 3Z5, Canada.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of job preference, unpaid overtime, importance of earnings, and stress in retaining nurses in their employing hospitals and in the profession. Data come from our survey of 1396 nurses employed in three teaching hospitals in Southern Ontario, Canada. Data are analyzed first for all nurses, then separately for full-time, part-time, and casual nurses. Results show that the key to understanding the effects of these variables may be to pay attention to the work status of nurses. With regards to retaining nurses in their hospitals, working in their preferred type of job is important, particularly for part-time nurses. Working unpaid and longer than agreed hours is also a factor for increasing the likelihood of part-time nurses to leave the profession. All nurses are less inclined to leave as the importance of their earnings for the family increases, but it is particularly important for part-time nurses. Stress is an ongoing concern for retaining nurses in their hospitals and within the profession. We suggest managers and policy makers pay attention to employing nurses in jobs they prefer, decrease unpaid overtime, and consider the importance of earnings for them and their families in developing policies and programs to retain nurses. More importantly, stress levels should be lowered to retain nurses.

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