Background: Current evidence suggests that the economic recession has induced retired RNs to reenter nursing and working nurses to work more hours and delay retirement, thus easing the projected RN shortage. We wondered whether the economic downturn had affected new nurses’ work attitudes and behaviors, including those related to turnover.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare perceptions about job opportunities, as well as key attitudinal variables (such as job satisfaction and intent to stay), in two cohorts of newly licensed RNs.
Methods: Our data came from two sources: a subset of new RNs licensed between August 1, 2004, and July 31, 2005, who were part of a larger 2006 study on turnover, and a later cohort of new RNs licensed between August 1, 2007, and July 31, 2008. We mailed survey questionnaires to one cohort before the recession in 2006 and to a second cohort during the recession in 2009.
Results: We found that RNs’ commitment to their current employers was higher in the later cohort than in the earlier one, although neither nurses’ incomes nor their reported job satisfaction levels had changed.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, despite some improvements in working conditions, newly licensed RNs may just be waiting for the recession to end before changing jobs. Health care organizations’ efforts to improve RNs’ working conditions and wages, and to implement or support existing programs aimed at increasing retention, should be continued.