In their own words: Why nursing assistants keep their jobs. Factors that support and detract from nursing assistant job longevity
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Nursing assistants provide 90% of the direct care services to residents in nursing homes. Much has been written about the problem of turnover among these employees. Often, research has addressed the issue from a "problem perspective", questioning why do nursing assistants leave? This research uses a strengths perspective, in an effort to determine why nursing assistants, who have been with their jobs for five or more years, stay on the job. A qualitative methodology was used, allowing nursing assistant participants to describe in their own words what it is like to be a nursing assistant in a nursing home. They describe the good days and bad days, how work is assigned, how they accomplish work within a team structure, why they have chosen to stay on the job, and what factors detract from staying. They also offer their own insights into the problem of turnover. The results of the study indicate that nursing assistants who stay are mature, independent, and reliable. They stay because they care about the residents they serve, and they want to make a difference in their lives. They have bad days, but they take them in stride because they view the residents like family. Other nursing assistants with whom they work are crucial to quality resident care. Only with a full staff and teamwork can all needs of residents be met, allowing time for extras that make the difference between just doing a job, and really caring for residents. Nursing assistants offer insights into the turnover problem that have implications for recruitment practices. Recommendations resulting from this research also have implications for retention and training of nursing assistants, and the need for further research.