Registered Nurses' Perceptions of Nursing

Peter I. Buerhaus; Karen Donelan; Beth T. Ulrich; Leslie Kirby; Linda Norman; Robert Dittus


Nurs Econ. 2005;23(3):110-118. 

In This Article

Satisfaction With Current Job and Relationships With Others

In both surveys, RNs were asked how satisfied they were with their present job. Figure 1 shows that among all respondents RNs were generally increasingly satisfied with their jobs, as the percent of RNs who were very satisfied with their jobs increased significantly from 21% in 2002 to 34% in 2004. Moreover, significantly more RNs in both surveys were satisfied with their jobs than those who were dissatisfied (83% in both surveys reported they were either very, moderately, somewhat, or a little satisfied). We suspected that the degree of job satisfaction might vary according to the type of position RNs were employed in and highest education attained. However, little variation was found in the percent of RNs who were either very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs when these parameters were examined, although RNs with graduate degrees were significantly more likely to be very satisfied with their present job (see Figure 2).

Registered Nurses' Satisfaction with Current Job, All Respondents, 2002 and 2004

Registered Nurses' Satisfaction with Present Job by Position and Highest Education Degree, All Respondents, 2004

Thus, to better understand what might explain RN satisfaction with their present jobs, multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine the variables that were statistically significant predictors of high and low levels of job satisfaction in both the 2002 and 2004 surveys. We constructed a model containing demographic, employment, economic, type of position, work setting, and job characteristic variables, performed stepwise regression using the 2002 data, and then confirmed the model (with a few minor changes) using the 2004 survey data. Results of the regression analysis showed that the increase in job satisfaction was predicted by relatively few variables; namely, RNs who reported their organizations emphasized patient care, management recognized the importance of their personal and family lives, satisfaction with salary and benefits, high job security, and positive relationships with other nurses and with management. Decreases in job satisfaction were predicted by feeling stressed to the point of burnout, feeling burdened by too many non-nursing tasks, experiencing an increase in the number of patients assigned, and having a general negative overall view of the health care system.

Table 1 shows changes between 2002 and 2004 in several of these predictors of job satisfaction among RNs who work in direct care positions in hospitals. These RNs generally perceive overall improvements in several aspects of their job. For example, although a majority strongly agreed that their "job is so stressful that they feel burned out," more RNs in 2004 (34%) than in 2002 (25%) disagreed with this statement. Also, the percent of RNs who either strongly agreed or agreed that front-line management recognizes the importance of RNs' personal and family life increased from 42% in 2002 to 57% in 2004. In addition, more RNs in 2004 (44%) strongly agreed that their current position provides them with job security than in 2002 (38%). On the other hand, when the amount of non-nursing tasks involved in their jobs was considered, no improvement had occurred since 2002.

The quality of relationships among nurses and other nursing personnel also was assessed in both surveys. Overall, Table 2 shows that in both surveys more than 80% of RNs working in direct care positions in hospitals perceived relationships between RNs as good, very good, or excellent. Moreover, the percent of RNs who perceived very good or excellent relationships among nurses increased notably from 53% in 2002 to 72% in 2004. In the 2004 survey but not in the 2002 survey, we broadened the assessment of relationships to include RNs' relationships with licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and support staff. The data show that RNs' perceived a better relationship with other RNs than with either LPNs or support staff. In fact, only 9% of RNs perceived an excellent relationship with support staff compared to 21% with LPNs and 26% with other RNs; similarly, more RNs perceived a fair or poor relationship with support staff than with other nursing personnel.


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