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  1. McNeese-Smith, Donna K. EdD, RN, CNAA


Objectives: To examine the phenomenon of job stages, particularly entry, mastery, and disengagement; to identify predictors of each stage; and to determine when disengagement occurs among nurses.


Summary Background Data: Job or career stages have been conceptualized as an aspect of growth and development and also career growth and change. Graham identified job stages of entry, mastery, and disengagement and theorized that stages are related to time on the job, skill development, and attitudes. They are levels of identification of the self and ego with the job environment. Studies on burnout as well as hardiness were also examined because of their possible relations with job stages.


Methods: This descriptive survey queried 412 RNs, selected by random sample from three hospitals, to determine their job stage. Demographic characteristics, role, years as a nurse, years in this hospital, years in this job, and job satisfaction, productivity, and organizational commitment were also measured. Data analyses provided frequencies and percentages, and logistic regression was performed to identify predictors of each job stage.


Results: Forty-eight (13%) nurses reported being in the entry stage; 224 (62%) nurses were in mastery. Mastery was predicted by several variables, including U.S. education (negative) and organizational commitment (positive). Eighty-seven (24%) nurses reported being in disengagement, and this was predicted by years in this job and negatively predicted by organizational commitment.


Conclusions: Strategic planning for mastery and avoidance of disengagement were discussed, and implications for administrators and the profession were presented.