Do you remember your first job as an RN and how exciting everything was? Starting an IV – exciting! Saving a patient’s life – exciting! That excitement might not have lasted for 20 or 40 years, but you can still recall it, can’t you? A study published in the Journal of Nursing Economics (JNE) suggests the excitement for newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) about their RN job is at an all-time low.
The study measured the stress levels and job satisfaction in NLRNs and the results were perhaps even more alarming than the state of dissatisfaction in “seasoned nurses” as revealed in the 2014 National Nurses’ Stress Survey sponsored by Vickie Milazzo Institute.
In the JNE study, the ages of the NLRNs surveyed were an average of 35 years old and average time in the job was just 27.6 months. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the results were very similar to the results of the National Nurses’ Stress Survey. Here’s some quick and alarming statistics from the JNE study:
- 23% of NLRNs report they are dissatisfied with their nursing jobs.
- 24% would advise a friend against taking a nursing job.
- 51% reported they would “take some other job” if they were free to do so.
- 19% would not take the same nursing job again.
The fact that these dissatisfied RNs have been in their RN jobs for less than three years is nothing short of alarming. It took this renegade nurse (me) six years to leave my RN job at the hospital to launch my legal nurse consulting business (LOL).
The National Nurses’ Stress Survey also revealed that stress and dissatisfaction are not limited to older RNs. Stress immediately impacts young RNs as they begin their careers just as much as it does RNs with two decades or more of experience. The expectation, that extreme levels of stress in nursing is the norm, is unfortunately set from the start. It’s a combination of this stress and the lack of prospects for change that ultimately cause many of our nation’s young RNs to burn out and become dissatisfied. If newly licensed registered nurses are in a state of stress after such a short period, where will they be when they reach the age of the baby-boomer nurses who participated in the National Nurses’ Stress Survey?
Naturally you’d think that hospitals and other healthcare facilities would be actively rectifying the harsh working conditions of registered nurses with an eye towards retaining not only the aging nursing population, but also attracting and retaining newly licensed registered nurses. But, unfortunately RNs report the draconian working conditions are worse than ever.
In the National Nurses’ Stress Survey:
- 64% of survey respondents said they rarely get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. “Family by day, work by night; finding a balance between four active kids and their activities and my work schedule and sleep. Working nights is also stressful on my aging body and mind.”
- 77% of the respondents said they do not regularly eat properly. “No breaks, nothing to eat or drink, peeing one time because you are overwhelmed with your workload.”
And it gets worse from there.
- 82% reported that it’s difficult to reach a life-work balance. “Not being able to meet staff and patient needs in a timely manner leads me to use my personal time to bridge the gap. Work long hours.”
- 88% find it difficult to do something fun at least once per week. “Not enjoying time with friends or family. About to get married and can’t get time off, always missing out on the important things in life.”
- 89% feel they are not in a position to delegate work properly. “No teamwork.”
- 75% report they do not have the level of authority to do their job well. “Not having the authority to take care of things that need to be done, but being responsible for it.”
- 84% feel they are not fairly compensated for their work. “Not enough pay for experience. Expected to work extra hours whenever needed or come in on your day off.”
- 90% said apathetic superiors and inadequate support staff hamper them at their jobs. “Lack of concern by management. Those in leadership roles abusing power, favoritism, lateral violence.”
- 84% reported they are not respected or appreciated in some capacity within their organization. “Lack of respect at work for responsible nurses… Supervisors unwilling to put a stop to the constant and senseless backstabbing.”
As Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know, stress and job satisfaction are closely related to quality of care. A study from the Journal of Patient Safety revealed that as many as 400,000 Americans die each year from malpractice in hospitals. Stress can lead to errors and mistakes. It is not surprising that medical malpractice in hospitals is at an all-time peak.
Stress and job satisfaction are also directly related to staff retention. The Journal of Nursing Economics study is especially alarming because the largest healthcare workforce (RNs) is rapidly aging with nearly 1 million baby boomers out of the 2.7 million registered nurses reaching retirement age and putting us on the precipice of a dangerous nursing shortage.
If the young and talented newly licensed RNs choose to leave nursing prematurely to seek other careers, where will that leave the rest of us?
I hope I’m not in the hospital, as a patient or as an RN to find out.
I’m Just Stressin’
P.S. Comment and share your views on the job satisfaction outlook for newly licensed registered nurses.