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Sociodemographic, Market, and Political Factors that Influence Nurses Who Do Not Work in Nursing


Purpose: The purpose of this research was to describe registered nurses not working at all and those working in non-nursing compared to those working in nursing. Factors associated with registered nurses not working or working in non-nursing employment were examined in terms of sociodemographic characteristics, market factors, and political factors.

Background & Significance: Empirical and anecdotal literature have demonstrated an exodus of registered nurses from the nursing profession. This study has policy implications for addressing these workplace losses.

Conceptual Framework: This research was guided by economic labor market theory.

Research Design & Methods: Secondary data from the 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses with a sample of 35,635 nurses was used for the analysis. A two-stage least squares model was estimated using a predicted market wage for all nurses in the sample and univariate probit equations were used.

Key Findings: Nurses who worked in non-nursing and those who did not work at all were different from nurses who work in non-nursing. The main reason nurses gave for working in non-nursing was dissatisfaction with the nursing workplace. Salary was not a significant predictor controlling for other factors. Male nurses and nurses over the age of 45 were more likely to work in non-nursing than female nurses and younger nurses. Nurses with young children in the home, those with at least a baccalaureate degree in nursing, and those who lived in politically liberal counties were more likely to be employed in nursing than nurses without children, those in politically conservative states, and those with lesser education. Working in non-nursing was contingent upon not participating in the nursing market.

Implications for Health Policy: New policy remedies are needed to recruit new nurses to nursing and to retain those who are leaving the profession. Continued salary enhancements in the absence of real changes in the nursing workplace will not contribute significant long-term solutions to the current nursing shortage.

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