Breaking With Tradition: The New Groups in Professional Nursing

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Chronic shortages of registered nurses (RNs) have stimulated interest in locating non-traditional sources of RNs. A statewide survey of 2,315 newly graduated RNs compared three non-traditional groups in nursing with their traditional counterparts, identifying differences that have implications for successful recruitment and retention. Second career nurses, former LPNs and minorities comprised 41.9% of the population. Compared to the traditional groups, more second career nurses, former LPNs and some minority groups were older, married and had children. Second career vs. first career nurses placed less emphasis on selecting schools at the highest levels of academic quality, holding out for the most lucrative jobs or working with the most “interesting” patients (i.e., the acutely ill). Former LPNs, compared to other RNs, placed greater value on easy access to schools and jobs. Compared to whites, minority RNs were more inclined to value nursing's socioeconomic rewards. However, compared to non-Asian minorities in nursing, Asian RNs had higher expectations for professional advancement and were less altruistic. Our results indicate that several of the new groups view nursing less as a “calling,” finding the field appealing for practical socioeconomic reasons and accessibility.

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