Factors that influence the recruitment and retention of nurses in public health agencies

Valerie Yeager, Janna M. Wisniewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Given challenges to recruiting nurses to public health and the growth in national policies focused on population health, it is crucial that public health agencies develop strategies to sustain this important group of employees. The objective of this study was to examine factors that influence nurses’ decisions to work in public health agencies. Methods: This cross-sectional study examined perspectives of nurses who worked in state and local public health departments and responded to the 2010 Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice’s survey of public health workers. We calculated the mean rating of each recruitment and retention factor for nurses and non-nurses separately and compared differences by using t tests. We then used multivariate regression analysis to examine differences in ratings by role (ie, nurse or non-nurse). Results: After controlling for personal and organizational characteristics, the influence of 5 recruitment factors was significantly stronger among nurses than among non-nurses: flexibility of work schedule (P < .001), autonomy/employee empowerment (P < .001), ability to innovate (P = .002), specific duties and responsibilities (P = .005), and identifying with the mission of the organization (P = .02). The influence of 5 retention factors was stronger among nurses than among non-nurses: autonomy/employee empowerment (P < .001), flexibility of work schedule (P < .001), specific duties and responsibilities (P < .001), opportunities for training/continuing education (P = .03), and ability to innovate (P = .008). Conclusions: Some factors that influence nurses to begin and remain working in local governmental public health agencies, such as flexible schedules and employee autonomy, are factors that governmental public health agencies can design into positions and highlight when recruiting from health care organizations, private industry, and academia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-562
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Nurses
  • Public health workforce
  • Recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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