Looking ahead at nursing workforce research – Roger Watson, Professor of Nursing, University of Hull
The STaR project is concerned with investigating the factors associated with the transition from being a nursing student to becoming a Registered Nurse and only one of the ‘hats’ I wear is as Principal Investigator on the STaR project. I am also Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Advanced Nursing (JAN). JAN has always focused on nursing workforce issues and one of our project advisors, Professor Jim Buchan, has written several articles and editorials for JAN and edited a special section. His articles include a seminal piece on the ‘greying’ of the UK nursing workforce and on turnover in the nursing workforce in the UK and internationally. Therefore, it is easy to see how Jim is well qualified to advise us on the work we are doing.
In relation to our project I looked at what was coming up in JAN in the near future and scanned our accepted and early view articles – all currently available online – and it is plain that nursing workforce issues continue to be the focus of investigation across the world. In the forthcoming contents we have articles from China, France, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan.
The StaR project is about the transition specifically and although none of these upcoming articles address this directly there is not a great deal of research out there on the transition period. Our own rapid evidence assessment will establish a comprehensive evidence based overview of this particular period in the career of nurses. But the articles coming up in JAN – which probably reflect the situation in several high-quality nursing journals – point to the issues that nurses, including newly qualified nurses, face when they begin to work In the healthcare sector. The articles I identified point to factors such as: work environment and engagement (more engagement makes people want to stay); job satisfaction on turnover (higher job satisfaction makes nurses want to stay) and on delayed retirement (more satisfied nurses will delay retirement); burnout (less likely among midwives in family-friendly workplaces); and intention to leave (increased by job stress). So, while none of these studies are specifically concerned with the transition period being investigated in the STaR project they do point to some factors which may make transition more difficult; they also point to strategies that are likely to alleviate the negative aspects of that transition period.
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