Nurses Working Outside of Nursing: Societal Trend or Workplace Crisis?


Lisa Black, Joanne Spetz, Charlene Harrington

August 1, 2008

The phenomenon of career inactivity in professional nursing has been historically portrayed in the literature as a major cause of disequilibrium in the registered nurse labor market. However, there remains a general lack of understanding of the diverse forces that shape the inactive nurse pool and the likelihood that this population will return to nursing. The purpose of this study was to examine the population of registered nurses who are active in the labor market but work in non-nursing employment. Specifically, this study sought to determine the relative importance of non-workplace- and workplace-related reasons for working outside of nursing. The results demonstrate that dissatisfaction with the nursing workplace is the key reason cited by actively licensed nurses for working outside of nursing employment. These findings suggest that policy and employer remedies are needed to improve the nursing workplace.

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