The Keys to Nurse Job Satisfaction
Love going to work? Why some nurses answer “Yes” and others “No.”
How satisfied are you with your current nursing job?
Whether you are excited to go to work every day or have to drag yourself there by an act of sheer will, there are a number of factors affecting your nurse job satisfaction. Some are more obvious than others, ranging from your relationships with colleagues, to your career trajectory and your job’s effect on your physical and emotional health.
Five factors that can affect why you are, or are not, satisfied with your nursing job:
1. The physical work environment. A 2014 study conducted through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s RN Work Project, published in Research in Nursing & Health, found that a nurse’s physical work environment seems to have an influence on his or her perception of his/her nursing job. For example, design characteristics such as the arrangement of furniture, décor and the crowdedness of the work environment, as well as lighting and temperature, all can have an effect. The more highly a nurse rated those types of features, the more likely he or she was to report better working relationships, said lead researcher Maja Djukic, PhD, RN, assistant professor at the College of Nursing, New York University.
2. Your age. AMN Healthcare’s 2015 Survey of Registered Nurses found that younger nurses tend to be more confident about their own careers as nurses--and the profession in general. In fact, the survey found that older nurses were more likely than younger nurses to report that nursing was less rewarding than when they began their careers.
3. Recognition of your accomplishments. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses included meaningful recognition in a list of six standards that are vital to a healthy work environment in a 2005 report. If your employer has determined--and implemented--the most effective ways to recognize you for your hard work and contributions, you’re more likely to be satisfied with your job.
4. Appropriate staffing levels. A recent literature review by the American Nurses Association noted that research clearly shows that effective staffing levels help nurses do a better job at caring for their patients--and adequate support for nurses that includes safe staffing levels also improves satisfaction and retention rates.
5. Attention to nurse health and injuries. A 2011 study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that on-the-job injuries can lead to nurse turnover, especially among newly licensed nurses. The authors noted that 40 percent of the hospital nurses surveyed had experienced one or more sprains or strains--and about one-fifth of them quit their first nursing job within about two years. A 2014 survey by Ergotron also found that 60 percent of nurses surveyed were worried their jobs are negatively impacting their overall health. When nurses’ physical discomfort or injuries are not addressed, patient care tends to suffer; in fact, 22 percent of those in the Ergotron study reported being less friendly or engaging less with their patients and 17 percent reported being more distracted.
So how do you improve nurse job satisfaction? Here are some potential solutions:
Find a mentor. A mentor can help you get acclimated to a particular job, or provide guidance about your career path. Mentoring also seems to help many new nurses feel more satisfied about their profession. A 2012 study in Nursing Research & Practice found a “positive relationship between career satisfaction and intent to stay in the nursing profession.”
Get involved. That could mean joining a hospital committee, providing feedback on important issues or otherwise participating in the decision-making process. Djukic said, “If you have a say in the way that things are done, they are more likely to be done in a way that makes you happy.” When healthcare organizations are considering implementing new policies or remodeling facilities, nurses should speak up and provide input.
Consider a change. If you feel consistently dissatisfied with your current nursing job and can’t seem to find a reasonable solution, it could be time to consider a change. Travel nursing can give you a fresh start with a job that is close to home or across the country. Assignments can begin within just a few weeks, and generally last 4 to 13 weeks.
Everyone has a vested interest in making sure nurses are happy. Nurse job satisfaction levels relate to quality of care, turnover rates, and hiring costs, and research shows a link between nurse job satisfaction and patient satisfaction. High patient satisfaction scores, in turn, make the administrators and leaders happy. In essence, if nurses are satisfied, just about everyone else will be, too.
Additional Nursing Resources:
- AMN Passport: Our all-in-one nursing app for booking nursing jobs.
- Nursing Salary & Benefits: AMN Healthcare offers our nurses some amazing salaries and benefits. Find out what's in store for your nursing career today.
- Travel Nurse Licensing: Find out about nursing requirements for all 50 states.
- Exclusive Facilities: AMN Healthcare has relationships with the most sought-after healthcare providers.
- Refer-a-Friend: Make up to $2,000 per referral.