Understanding human resource wastage in the nursing shortage: Lessons learned from Chinese nurses leaving nursing practice

Sheila Rodgers, Junhong Zhu, Kath Melia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

By discussing the lessons learned from Chinese nurses leaving nursing practice, this paper reports on the currently neglected issue of nursing wastage in the nursing shortage in China. The nursing shortage needs to be understood locally and resolved globally. However, a lack of understanding of the root causes and consequences of nurses leaving nursing practice in their home countries has impeded the implementation of effective strategies in resolving nursing shortage nationally and worldwide. This qualitative study draws on a grounded theory approach. In-depth interviews with 19 nurses who had left nursing practice were theoretically sampled from one provincial capital city in China. Managerial and organizational support from the current Chinese nursing workforce management to retain qualified nurses is lacking. While hospital managers claim that nurses’ voluntary leaving is an individuals’ problem rather than an institutional problem, participants view their leaving nursing practice as the way to pursue personal freedom and value in response to their dissatisfaction and stress in nursing. The lessons from Chinese nursing perspective indicate that nursing wastage may not only occur when nurses choose voluntary leaving, but also happen when they resort to passive staying. The wastage of nursing human resources in Chinese Grade Three hospitals is arguably the most pressing nursing crisis in regards to the nursing shortage nationwide.The study suggests that nursing wastage may be avoided if nurses have greater autonomy to achieve more reasonable career prospects, thereby ensuring nurses’ professional value and contribution to be properly rewarded with managerial and organizational support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-212
Number of pages17
JournalAthens Journal of Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • China
  • nursing shortage
  • power
  • workforce management
  • wastage


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