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Background Global nursing workforce shortage represents an impediment to the delivery of safe, evidence-based healthcare. Despite collective efforts, a consistent stream of nurses leaving the profession remains, particularly within the first five years of practice, which is exacerbated in rural communities. The aim of the study was to compare self-efficacy, grit, and rural career aspirations among nursing graduates between their second and fourth year of their nursing profession.

Methods As part of a longitudinal investigation, a repeated cross-sectional design was utilised. Participants included, 117 (response rate 52.2%) who completed an online questionnaire 18–24 months after graduating, and 32 participants (response rate of 21.0%) who agree to repeat the questionnaire 36–48 months after graduating. The questionnaire included demographic, employment, and measures examining general and occupational self-efficacy, grit, and rural career aspirations.

Results No differences between general and occupational self-efficacy or grit were identified between second- and fourth-year nurses. In addition, the importance placed on undertaking rural career also remains unchanged. However, a higher proportion of fourth year nurses were more likely to be in management or were considering leaving the profession.

Conclusions This examination of early career nurses, now in their second and fourth-year post-graduation highlights self-efficacy, grit, and rural career aspirations remains stable between two- and four-years following graduation, while nursing in their fourth year were more likely to consider leaving the profession. Nursing retention is a ‘Wicked Problem’ that is unavoidably a complex amalgam of macro, meso and micro factors that we are yet to fully appreciate.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.