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Turnover and vacancy rates for registered nurses: Do local labor market factors matter?

Rondeau, Kent V.; Williams, Eric S.; Wagar, Terry H.

doi: 10.1097/01.HMR.0000304494.87898.bc

Background: Turnover of nursing staff is a significant issue affecting health care cost, quality, and access. In recent years, a worldwide shortage of skilled nurses has resulted in sharply higher vacancy rates for registered nurses in many health care organizations. Much research has focused on the individual, group, and organizational determinants of turnover. Labor market factors have also been suggested as important contributors to turnover and vacancy rates but have received limited attention by scholars.

Purpose: This study proposes and tests a conceptual model showing the relationships of organization-market fit and three local labor market factors with organizational turnover and vacancy rates.

Methods: The model is tested using ordinary least squares regression with data collected from 713 Canadian hospitals and nursing homes.

Results: Results suggest that, although modest in their impact, labor market and the organization-market fit factors do make significant yet differential contributions to turnover and vacancy rates for registered nurses.

Implications: Knowledge of labor market factors can substantially shape an effective campaign to recruit and retain nurses. This is particularly true for employers who are perceived to be "employers-of-choice."

Kent V. Rondeau, PhD, is Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. E-mail:

Eric S. Williams, PhD, is Minnie Miles Research Professor, and Associate Professor, Department of Management and Marketing, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. E-mail:

Terry H. Wagar, PhD, is Professor, Department of Management, St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.