Nurse Turnover: Understand it, Reduce it

Franklin A. Shaffer, EdD, RN, FAAN, FFNMRCSI; Leah Curtin, ScD(h), RN, FAAN


Am Nurs Journal. 2020;15(8) 

In This Article

Why do Nurses Leave?

When surveyed, nurses give the following reasons for leaving their current positions: moving, personal matters, promotion, salary, retirement, and burnout. They also leave because they're dissatisfied with their jobs, they're given little independence or respect, staffing and scheduling don't meet their needs, physician/nurse relationships aren't collegial, they want to return to school, or their healthcare facility closed.

Many hospitals have addressed these problems, but turnover continues to rise. Healthcare organizations might do well to learn from business as well as from other hospitals. Research by John Kotter and James Heskett, published in the book Corporate Culture and Performance, reveals some surprising statistics for firms (12 with a performance-enhancing culture and 20 without) they followed for 11 years.

Firms with a performance-enhancing culture experienced:

  • 682% revenue growth

  • 282% employment growth

  • 901% stock price growth

  • 756% net income growth.

Firms without a performance-enhancing culture experienced:

  • 166% revenue growth

  • 36% employment growth

  • 74% stock price growth

  • 1% net income growth.

Simply put, companies that intentionally manage their cultures significantly outperform those that don't. The original research behind the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program®, conducted by an American Academy of Nursing group headed by Margaret McClure, EdD, RN, FAAN, was an attempt to determine why nurses stayed at some facilities and left others. The results indicated that nurses stayed at hospitals where excellent patient care was the norm.