Health SA Gesondheid (Online)
On-line version ISSN 1025-9848
MOKOKA, Elizabeth; OOSTHUIZEN, Martha J. and EHLERS, Valerie J.. Retaining professional nurses in South Africa: Nurse managers' perspectives. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2010, vol.15, n.1, pp. 1-9. ISSN 1025-9848.
South Africa is experiencing a serious shortage of nurses, which has to be addressed to prevent crises in health care services. Previous studies (Fletcher 2001:324; Oosthuizen 2005:117) found that nurses change their work environment due to dissatisfaction with their job situations. This implies that creating a favourable environment in the workplace situation could help retain professional nurses in their posts, implying that retention strategies should be effective. An exploratory, descriptive, contextual and qualitative design was used to describe nurse managers' views on factors which could influence professional nurse retention, as well as their views regarding attributes that were required to enable them to contribute towards enhancing professional nurse retention. A purposive sample of nurse managers employed in public and private hospitals in the Gauteng province was selected. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 nurse managers. The results were analysed qualitatively and contextualised within Vogt, Cox, Velthouse and Thames's Cork-Top (Bottleneck) Theory of Nurse Retention (1983) and Lewin's Force-Field Analysis Theory (1952). Factors pertaining to individual nurses, the organisation and nurse managers could influence the retention of professional nurses. Poor working conditions, long and inconvenient working hours, uncompetitive salaries and professional development of nurses have to be addressed to enhance professional nurses' retention. Unsafe working environments and a lack of resources threaten the safety and well-being of nurses and patients and contribute to high turnover rates. Nurse managers have to address shortcomings in their managerial and leadership skills and implement changes within a multigenerational nursing workforce and challenging working environments.
Keywords : baby boomers; generation X; generation Y; nurse retention; silent generation.