Losing the rural nursing workforce: Lessons learnt from resigning nurses

Susan Bragg, Ann Bonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Australian workforce planning predicts a shortfall of nurses by 2025 with rural areas being most at risk. Rural areas have lower retention rates of nurses than metropolitan areas, with remote communities experiencing an even higher turnover of nursing staff. There have been few studies that examine the impact of nurse resignations on rural nursing workforces. Objective: This paper is abstracted from a larger study into the reasons why nurses resign from rural hospitals and explores the resignation period. Design: A qualitative study using grounded theory methods. Following in-depth interviewing and transcription, data analysis occurred with the assistance of NVivo software. Setting: Rural NSW. Participants: Twelve registered nurses who had resigned from rural NSW hospitals and not for reasons of retirement, maternity leave or relocation; two participants were re-interviewed. Results: While the overall study identified a grounded theory which explained rural nurses resign from hospitals due to a conflict of values, three additional themes emerged about the resignation practices at rural hospitals. The first theme identified a 'window period' which was an opportunity for the nurse to be retained. The second theme identified that nurses who had resigned were not involved in formal exit processes such as exit interviews. The third theme captured the flow-on effect from rural nurse resignations resulting in nurses leaving the profession of nursing. Conclusion: To facilitate nurse retention, it is important that rural hospitals manage nurse resignations more effectively. This includes re-examining resignation procedures, how nurses are treated and collecting meaningful data to inform retention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-370
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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