Some nurses are dissatisfied with the quality of their employment benefits and express low levels of job satisfaction, according to a new study. In a comprehensive survey of 95,449 nurses in 614 American hospitals and health care settings, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found nearly 41 percent were dissatisfied with their health care benefits—more than double that of nurses working elsewhere, showing broad-based disincentives to attracting nurses to work at the bedside.
“This suggests that nurses in caregiving roles are experiencing a distinct disadvantage relative to their peers and others in the broader workforce—a disadvantage that is likely to affect the stability of the nurse workforce in the future,” wrote lead author, Matthew McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, CRNP, and colleagues from the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at Penn’s School of Nursing. The demand for nurses to work in hospitals is expected to grow as baby boomers age, requiring more hospital stays and additional days of long-term care causing a projected shortage of nurses worldwide as today’s nurses retire.
The study, published in the policy journal Health Affairs, found that, among nurses working directly with patients, 24 percent of hospital nurses and 27 percent of nursing home nurses reported dissatisfaction in their current jobs, compared to just 13 percent of nurses working in other settings.
The researchers cited previous studies showing the work environment and staffing levels are chronic stressors that cause burnout. Nurses working under those conditions feel over-extended and depleted of emotional and physical resources.
The study by five professors in Penn’s nursing school found that, among nurses working directly with patients, 34 percent of hospital nurses and 37 percent of nursing home nurses reported feeling burned out in their current jobs, compared to 22 percent of nurses working in other settings.
Nurses’ dissatisfaction also affects patient satisfaction with the care they receive, according to the study. Researchers found that the percentage of patients who would definitely recommend a hospital to friends or family decreased by about 2 percent for every 10 percent of nurses at a hospital reporting dissatisfaction with their job.
Health care and retirement benefits also are an issue. Forty-one percent of hospital nurses and 51 percent of nursing home nurses who provide direct patient care were dissatisfied with their health care benefits. Nearly 60 percent of nurses in nursing homes and half of nurses in hospital are dissatisfied with retirement benefits.
The authors of the study, McHugh; Ann Kutney-Lee, PhD, RN, an ANA member; Jeannie Cimiotti, DNS, RN and Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, FRCN, both Pennsylvania State Nurses Association member; and Douglas Sloane, PhD, conclude that improving nurses’ working conditions may improve the work experience of nurses and the patients’ experience in the hospital.
The article is available online at http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/2/202.full.html.
Susan Trossman is the senior reporter for ANA.