The future of emergency nursing – what the evidence is telling us

Mrs Vanessa Gorman1

1The Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia


High nursing turn-over, and low retention rates amongst the field of emergency nursing according to current evidence is a global phenomenon. How is the current evidence influencing managers and organisations to identify key factors that may improve not only retention, but recruitment, into the speciality of emergency nursing?

This study utilised a bibliographic search as well as the authors own experience when performing the integrative review.

26 articles were identified as meeting the criteria of the integrative review. Both national and international articles that met inclusion criteria were included.

4 key themes were identified that may impact on the recruitment and retention of emergency nurses: workplace environment, demands on emergency nurses, resilience, and education and training.

The key themes identified all impact on emergency nurse recruitment and retention, but the evidence is conclusive that a multi-level approach needs to be adopted internationally.

Emergency nursing recruitment and retention is a multi-faceted issue that requires urgent attention to develop tools and strategies to support organizations to build a sustainable workforce. This study has highlighted the need for further studies to understand why emergency nurses lack the knowledge or capability for a long-term career in emergency nursing.


Vanessa Gorman commenced her emergency nursing career in 1996 at Austin Hospital, Melbourne. Across her 23 year career in emergency nursing she has held positions such as Associate Unit Manager, Nurse Unit Manager, Project Manager, Senior Policy Advisor – Department of Health & Human Services, Bed Access Coordinator, Nursing Educator and State Trauma Manager.  Vanessa holds post-graduate qualifications in Emergency Nursing having completed a Masters in Speciality Nursing (University of Tasmania) and a Graduate Diploma in Health Services Management through Monash University. Vanessa is the Chair of the International Advisory Council for the Emergency Nursing Association (USA), which aims to make improvements within emergency nursing globally.  Vanessa is dedicated to improving nursing work conditions with a particular interest in fatigue management. In 2015 she was co-lead in a Worksafe Victoria project with a focus on fatigue management for Emergency Nurses. Vanessa also has a passion for workforce management and importantly around what the future of nursing, and in particular emergency nursing, may look like. She recently presented to the largest Emergency Conference in the world in the USA where over 4000 delegates attended. Vanessa currently works in a speciality emergency department in Melbourne Victoria as she continues her drive to improve emergency care and support emergency clinicians.