Recent changes in U.S. health care and economics may influence the demand for nurses and the work choices of newly licensed RNs (NLRNs). We sought to compare the work lives of two cohorts of NLRNs licensed six years apart.
Data were collected from two groups of NLRNs in 14 states via mailed surveys. The first group consisted of a subset of NLRNs surveyed for a larger study in 2004–05; the second group was surveyed by similar methods in 2010–11. Responses were weighted to adjust for differences in response rates according to geographic area.
Response rates were 58% and 47%, respectively, for the 2004–05 cohort (N = 774) and the 2010–11 cohort (N = 1,613). The NLRNs in the later cohort were less likely to work in hospitals, special-care units, and direct care and more likely to work as managers, be enrolled in formal education programs, and view their work environments positively, resulting in more commitment to the organization. Also, those in the later cohort reported fewer local job opportunities, and a greater number held a second job
These findings indicate a shift from the traditional work patterns of NLRNs, who often began their careers in hospitals. Employers’ heightened awareness of such changing trends among NLRNs may help them in planning for RN recruitment and retention.