This descriptive study explored the perspectives of 51 university nurse graduates from the St. Francis Xavier University School of Nursing. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using telephone interviews to study a range of variables including geographic mobility patterns, career satisfaction and attitudes towards recruitment and retention factors. Given the negative perceptions in the media about nursing, the results of the study were unexpected and offer a sense of hope to those considering nursing as a career. Results indicate that graduates remained enthusiastic about their career choice and would choose nursing again as a career given the opportunity to do so. Furthermore, they would recommend nursing to others as a desirable career. The majority of graduates entered nursing because of a desire to make a meaningful difference in people's lives, and they were strongly influenced by positive nurse role models. Participants remained committed to a career in nursing, enjoyed considerable geographic mobility with migration to other Canadian provinces and the USA, but the majority returned to Canada for employment in nursing. The study confirms that the supportive nature of the work environment in which care is practised, the presence of visible and empowering nurse leaders, adequate compensation and benefits, and appropriate investment in continuing education and professional development of staff are significant factors in retaining nurses. Additional recommendations for enhanced recruitment and retention strategies are provided.
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