For the first time in recent years, the number of nurses and midwives in the UK leaving the Nursing and Midwifery Council register has exceeded those joining. Fort-five per cent more registrants left than joined between 2016 - 2017, the majority of whom were aged under 40 (NMC, 2017). It is not surprising that pay and working conditions topped the reasons for leaving, but while these issues have an important role in addressing retention, they form only part of the picture. The roots of nurse retention lie within the experiences of student nurses, and to address this we must act much sooner. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.