Details of Thesis

TitleAn Exploration of Factors That Influence End of Career Nurses' Decision Making Regarding Their Workforce Participation
Author Booker, Catriona Anne
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2011
AbstractAs healthcare faces a critical shortage of qualified nursing staff, the ageing nursing workforce is further challenged as the 'Baby Boomer' generation approaches retirement age by 2010. While current retention strategies are focused on recruitment, little is known about the reasons for the end of career nurses' (EOCNs') premature retirement or their resilience to remain in the profession. For the purpose of this thesis, the term EOCN is defined as registered nurses aged from 45 years and above, regardless of their length of service in the profession. The purpose of this research is to explore factors that influence EOCNs' decisions regarding their workforce participation. The context of this research is within an acute tertiary hospital in Brisbane, Queensland. The following research questions emerged from a synthesis of the literature. These questions focused the conduct of the study: 1) How do workplace environmental factors influence the EOCNs' decision regarding workforce participation? 2) How do leadership factors influence the EOCNs' decision regarding workforce participation? 3) How do personal and professional recognition factors influence the EOCNs' decision regarding workforce participation? 4) How does a balance between effort and reward influence the EOCNs' decision regarding workforce participation? Given the focus of this thesis, an interpretive approach was considered appropriate. Within a constructionist epistemology, symbolic interactionism has been adopted as the lens to inform the theoretical perspective of this study. The methodology adopted is case study. Data were collected from 218 participants (Registered Nurses (RNs) aged 45 years and over) through surveys, focus groups and in-depth semi-structured interviews. Three major conclusions drawn from this research contribute to new knowledge, practice and policy. Contributions to new knowledge highlight the pivotal role that leaders play in the development of a shared and nurturing workplace culture which considers the work satisfaction and personal recognition of staff. However, in the absence of leadership support, staff found personal and professional friendships a strong motivator to remain in the organisation. Effort and reward balance was a critical aspect in the achievement of work satisfaction. This study highlights the complexities and diversity of effort factors together with specific reward components which leaders should honour in order to optimise a balance between effort and reward. Contributions to practice illuminate the commitment of the experienced nurse to support their colleagues in the workplace. The commitment to support collegues may become a reality when relevant professional development programs are accessible in order to maintain contemporary skills. In addition, a shared learning culture in the workplace fosters recognition and celebration of exchange of knowledge. Physical working conditions such as heavy workloads were also found to compromise health and wellbeing of staff. This situation has implications for leaders in the review of work practices and job design in order to promote an environment that fosters and supports a safe and healthy workplace. Finally, contributions to policy identified a lack of organisational policy which is sensitive to the older worker. Leaders and policy developers need to support an age sensitive culture which reflects the principles of antidiscrimination, a safe and healthy environment, and pre-retirement planning opportunities.
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