Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Reasons for Leaving Nursing: A Study among Turkish Nurses

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Reasons for Leaving Nursing: A Study among Turkish Nurses

Article excerpt


The nursing shortage is considered to be a worldwide problem. In many countries, the number of nurses who leave their profession every year is more than the number of those entering the field (Duffield, O'Brein Pallas, & Aitken, 2004a). The number of nurses who are dissatisfied and intend to leave the profession has resulted in an overall increase in workforce turnover and desire of nurses to turn to non-nursing jobs, often within the hospital (Aiken et al., 2001). These factors emphasize the importance of finding effective methods to retain experienced nurses for the safe delivery of nursing care.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) emphasizes the need to identify the reasons why nurses are leaving the profession in order to determine what can be done to draw them back (Buchan & Calman, 2004; ICN/FNIF, 2006). Although the international scope of the nursing shortage has generated significant interest, the number of actual studies that investigate the reasons why nurses leave is quite limited. The majority of studies have been done in more-developed countries, such as Australia (Duffield et al., 2006) and the United States (US; Black, Spetz, & Harrington, 2008). Very little is known about why nurses in developing countries like Turkey choose to work outside of nursing.

The purposes of this study were to (1) determine the reasons that nurses in Turkey cite for leaving nursing, and (2) identify which professions or occupations nurses move into after permanently leaving their profession. Data obtained from this study may be used by decision makers in creating strategies to prevent the loss of nurses from the nursing workforce.


A literature review of was conducted to identify key concepts related to nurses leaving nursing. The following themes were found to be relevant: reasons for leaving nursing, work conditions, and career choices after nursing.

Reasons for leaving nursing

Duffield and Franks (2002) categorized reasons that nurses gave for leaving nursing and they noted three general themes: personal/family commitments, professional role-related reasons, and organizational factors. The authors reported in their qualitative study that nurses leftbecause they felt that they had reached a 'professional ceiling' and desired an opportunity for continued personal development in a different field. In another study, it was found that most nurses who lefthad an increased desire for career development, equality with other professions, respect as a health care professional, and to be free of shiftwork. Most of the study subjects did go on to receive further education (Duffield, Aitken, O'Brien Pallas, & Wise, 2004b).

Duffield et al. (2004a) identified a number of other reasons for nurses leaving the profession. These included legal matters, external values, and beliefs about the professional nursing role; professional practices; balancing work and home life; and contract issues. Several studies (Duffield & Franks, 2002; Duffield et al., 2004b) found that the knowledge and skills nurses had gained in nursing helped prepare them to find and adapt to positions outside the field.

Working conditions

Swedish researchers found that nurses relied on multiple variables to decide if they would leave or return to nursing. These included working conditions, work schedules, and administrative policies (Sjögren, Fochsen, Josephson, & Lagerström, 2005). In the United Kingdom, nurses reported that certain workplace factors influenced their decision to leave the profession. The most important were inadequate salaries, administrative responsibilities, full-time work requirements, and lack of professional autonomy. It was also found that if nurses lefttheir profession, they were more likely to do so in the early years of their careers (Barron & West, 2005).

In the US, nurses were found to leave nursing in order to work in other fields with more favorable working hours, more rewarding work, and better pay (Sochalski, 2002). …

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