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To describe why young registered nurses (RNs) had previously left an organisation and why they intend to leave the profession.Currently, many young registered nurses, including those in Finland, are considering leaving their job or have an intention to leave the profession.An in-depth, descriptive approach was adopted.Data were collected in 2012 from interviews with 15 registered nurses (under the age of 30 years). The interviews were semi-structured and analysed using conventional content analysis. The main questions addressed were: ‘Why had the young registered nurses left their previous organisation?’ and ‘Why do young registered nurses have an intention to leave the profession?’The findings centre on three themes: poor nursing practice environments; lack of support, orientation and mentoring, and nursing as a ‘second best’ or serendipitous career choice.The first years of nursing are particularly stressful for newly-graduated and inexperienced registered nurses. An in-depth, qualitative approach reveals more complex reasons behind the turnover of registered nurses and intention to leave the profession than questionnaire surveys.Young registered nurses need social support from nurse managers and experienced colleagues to successfully transition into nursing practice environments. Adequate orientation and mentoring programmes are needed to facilitate this transition.