Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Nursing and Midwifery


Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Bronwyn Jones

Second Advisor

Dr Joyce Hendricks

Third Advisor

Dr Christopher Churchouse


The nursing workforce in Australia is a workforce under pressure. Within in-patient settings, rapidly increasing turnover of more acutely ill or co-morbid patients, and staff retention issues, place those staff that remain under extra pressure to maintain a quality service. In nurse education settings the increasing imperative to recruit more students into the profession combined with financial cutbacks leading to staff retention issues creates a similar tension. Yet many Registered Nurses (RNs) do remain in their chosen work setting displaying tenacity and resilience despite well documented trials and tribulations.

A qualitative approach, Portraiture, was used to construct a collection of portraits which enabled an exploration of the ‘why’ that relates to the individual nurse’s remaining in a workplace often described as awful.

A narrative analysis of the portrait data allowed a meaningful interpretation based in current literature and contemporary experience in uncovering the individual’s resilience and motivation to continue. The portraits give an overarching insight of the nurse participant’s world view and why each continues in her work. The traits and attitudes uncovered have implications for educators and employers of nurses as well as for consumers of nursing care.

Several recommendations arose from the findings in relation to further research, education and policy making. These recommendations could contribute to enhance a satisfying professional milieu for the practising nurse; and to the education and ongoing professional development of nurses which acknowledges the changing socio-political and fiscal environment in which nursing service takes place.

Included in

Nursing Commons


Paper Location