Aims The study aims are (a) to test a model developed to estimate the impact of work engagement on work ability as it is perceived by nurses; (b) to test the parameters between work ability and job satisfaction and between job satisfaction and turnover intention. Design Cross-sectional. Methods This study involved 1,024 nurses from January - May 2018. The response rate was 70.7%. The Work Ability Index and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale were used. Path analysis was performed, both in the whole sample and in age categories (<45yy–≥45yy). Model's parameters and fit indexes were estimated. Results The comprehensive model was validated through the multi-group approach. Fit indexes were adequate in the general model and in the multi-group testing. Parameters confirmed the association between work engagement and work ability and between work ability and job satisfaction and turnover intention. Parameters highlighted different age-dependent patterns. Conclusion This study states the contribution of work engagement to enhance work ability in nursing profession. Findings contribute in understanding motivational dynamics in nurses and they suggest the use of tailored strategies for different age categories. Further research could address the model to deepen generational patterns in work engagement, work ability, and organizational outcomes. Impact The study highlights how to address nursing management to improve nurses’ motivation and work ability and to improve organizational outcomes. Main findings point out different age-dependent patterns to tailor managerial strategies. Healthcare organizations have new elements to design human resources management and to improve job satisfaction and nurses’ retention.