Trends in the Experiences of Hospital-Employed Registered Nurses: Results From Three National Surveys

Peter I. Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN; Karen Donelan, ScD; Beth T. Ulrich, EdD, RN, FACHE, FAAN; Catherine Desroches, Dr.P.H.; Robert Dittus, MD, MPH


Nurs Econ. 2007;25(2):69-79. 

In This Article


This study presents a comparison of the results of three national random sample surveys of RNs conducted in 2002, 2004, and 2006. By using many of the same identically worded questions and administering the surveys every 2 years, these data provide a running snapshot of the experience of hospital-employed RNs during the first half of the current decade. Overall, survey results point to several areas where RN perceptions have not changed appreciably during the past 6 years: the existence of a nursing shortage caused by inadequate wages and working conditions; desire to achieve a higher status in hospitals; need to improve the work setting; opportunities to influence the organization of the workplace and decisions affecting patient care; opportunities to develop and advance professionally; quality of professional relationships; union membership and affects of unionization; and RNs' plans to leave their nursing position. Areas that seem to be trending positively include decreased impact of the nursing shortage on care processes, hospital capacity, ability of nurses to provide care, and quality of care. Areas of improvement observed by RNs over the past 6 years include the amount and kind of overtime, satisfaction with current job, satisfaction with being a nurse, and willingness to advise a qualified high school or college student to pursue a career in nursing.


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