Reasons for entering and leaving nursing: An Australian regional study

Robert Eley, Diann Eley, Cath Rogers-Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To compare and contrast the reasons that nurses and nursing students provide for entering and leaving nursing. Design A quantitative cross-sectional cohort design with online survey. Setting Regional public health service district and regional university nursing school. Subjects Nurses (n=272) and nursing students (n=259). Main outcome measures Demographics of nurses and nursing students including age, sex and length of time as a nurse, and reasons for entering and leaving the profession. Results Among the nurses 88.4% were female and 37% 50 years of age or older. Almost half (45.3%) of the nursing students were 30 years of age or older and 44.1% of all students were working as nursing assistants or enrolled nurses whilst studying. Of these working students 32.5% had been nursing in excess of five years. Self interest, vocation and altruism were identified by both students and nurses as the main reasons for entering nursing. Respondents above and below 30 years of age gave the same reasons for entering nursing. Choice of factors for considering leaving nursing differed between groups and ages. Compared to students, nurses were most likely to cite disillusionment with nursing. Students under 30 years of age indicated pursuit of another career and starting a family to be the major factors while older students offered disillusionment with nursing and health concerns. Conclusions Retention strategies may need to differ for the age of nurse. However, recruitment needs to be informed by the altruistic and vocational reasons why nurses and nursing students are drawn to nursing rather than focussing on perceived generational differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-13
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Career choice
  • Nurses
  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Survey


Dive into the research topics of 'Reasons for entering and leaving nursing: An Australian regional study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this