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The causes of nurses' exodus from acute health care delivery practice may lie more in intrinsic factors rather than the heretofore overtly expressed reasons. This article examines bureaucratic factors, issues related to the medical profession and medical/scientific discourse, and factors within the nursing profession itself that may contribute to a nurse's unhappiness and dissatisfaction that causes him or her to leave. Nursing as emotional work and the implications for the individual nurse, and nursing as moral and moral distress are discussed. Suggestions to facilitate retention are made for changing the work environment to feel valued for their skillfully applied humanness.