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Leadership skills for nursing unit managers to decrease intention to leave

Authors Roche M, Duffield C, Dimitrelis S, Frew B

Received 13 November 2014

Accepted for publication 5 February 2015

Published 21 May 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 57—64

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NRR.S46155

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr David E. Vance


Michael A Roche,1 Christine Duffield,1,2 Sofia Dimitrelis,1 Belinda Frew1

1Centre for Health Services Management, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, 2Clinical Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia

Aim: To examine specific elements of nursing leadership linked to intention to leave, in public acute care hospitals.
Background: Nurse turnover is a global issue receiving widespread attention due to prolonged and projected workforce shortages. Nurse management and leadership qualities have been associated with intention to leave and turnover of nurses. The role of the nurse unit managers in the retention of nurses is becoming increasingly important, particularly because of their strong influence on the quality and stability of the work environment.
Methods: Data were collected from 62 medical, surgical, and mixed units across eleven public acute care hospitals in three Australian states (September 2008 to August 2010). A total of 1,673 nurses completed a nurse survey that included measures of intention to leave and leadership aspects of the practice environment. Analyses explored specific leadership characteristics that were associated with turnover intent.
Results: The role of nursing unit managers was confirmed to be a major factor in nurses’ intention to remain or leave their current workplace. Nurses valued “human” skills more highly than other leadership characteristics, including their manager’s connection with nurses’ concerns, clarity, participation in decisions, and encouragement.
Conclusion: Strong leadership qualities in the nursing unit manager have been associated with greater job satisfaction, reduced turnover intention among nursing staff, and improved patient outcomes. Nurse leaders need to be supported in an effort to retain nurses given ongoing workforce issues and to ensure high-quality patient care.

Keywords: nurse managers, leadership, work environment, turnover, retention

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