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To determine registered nurses' (RNs) perceptions of their first nursing position experience, and if they left the position, why.Little information is available regarding job perceptions of RNs in practice for 5 years or less. Nurses with negative perceptions of first job experiences may soon leave the position, thus doing little to alleviate staffing shortages and wasting precious recruitment and orientation resources. Therefore it is important to understand how recent RN graduates view their first job.The Survey of Nurses' Perceptions of First Job Experience was mailed to 3077 RNs licensed in Nevada who graduated from their basic nursing program within the last 5 years. Completed surveys were received from 352 respondents. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample and perception responses. ANOVA and t tests were used to compare total scores with selected demographic variables.Thirty percent of respondents left in 1 year and 57% left by 2 years. Patient care issues, such as unsafe nurse-patient ratios, were perceived as the most negative aspects and the most frequent reason for leaving.The findings have implications for nursing and hospital administrators for improving the work environment and retention rates of recent RN graduates.