When asked what they liked best about their career, most nurses could not narrow it down to just one answer — instead, they gave multiple reasons, with relationships with patients, being good at what they do, and having a job they liked being among the top answers, in a new survey by Medscape.
The Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report for 2016 surveyed 10,026 practicing nurses in the United States, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The respondents were largely female, middle-aged (aged 45 to 64 years), and in practice more than 21 years.
The different nurse specialists varied slightly in how they ranked the most rewarding aspects of their job. For LPNs, the top answers were gratitude from patients and relationships with patients, along with being proud of what they do. For RNs, those answers ranked high in their response, along with working at a job they liked and being very good at what they do.
Among APRNs, gratitude figured least highly for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), when compared with the higher percentages among nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. Working at a job they liked and being good at that job were the biggest rewards cited by CNSs and CRNAs.
Money was rarely cited by any nurse — at around 2% for most of the specialties — as the most rewarding aspect of their job, although 8% of CNRAs said it was important.
Although salary and pay did not figure greatly into the rewards side of the equation, it did come up when nurses were asked about least satisfying aspects of their job. The "amount of money I am paid" was the top answer for LPNs and CNSs, cited by 23% and 17% respectively, as the least satisfying part of the job.
Surprisingly, some 6% to 11% of respondents said "nothing," when asked what was least satisfying about their job.
Lack of Respect a Looming Issue
A good many nurses — LPNs, RNs, and APRNs — found documentation requirements to be burdensome, and 11% to 13% of respondents said a lack of respect from physicians and other colleagues was also discouraging. For CRNAs, the lack of respect was the greatest frustration on the job, with about a third saying it was an issue.
Although the low percentage of survey respondents who said respect was a problem might not indicate a huge problem, it was a repeated theme in comments. Nurses of all stripes indicated frustration with what they viewed as a lack of respect from administrators, physicians, patients, and even peers.
One expressed dismay with the "attitude of some patients that the hospital is a hotel and that I am a glorified waitress." Another APRN cited "the constant battle to be seen as a provider and not just another nurse by the nurses and support staff in the office."
Some nurses also expressed frustration with what they saw as a lack of support, citing overwhelming workloads; insufficient staff or resources; and excessive regulations, oversight, and payer denials. On the negative side, managers were called unsupportive, incompetent, uncommunicative, and not having a good appreciation of their jobs. Physicians were described as bullying, rude, and disrespectful.
Most Would Change Practice Setting
Some 95% of survey respondents said they were glad they'd become a nurse, and close to as many said they'd choose nursing as a profession if they had to do it all over again. CRNAs were least likely to say they would choose nursing again (73%).
Most nurses indicated they would not choose the same practice setting if given the chance to start over. Those who worked in hospitals were the most likely — at 28% — to say they'd stick with that setting. Close behind, 27% who work in an academic setting said they'd choose that setting again. Those in skilled nursing, home health, or contract/agency positions were least likely, at 11% to 15%, to say they would choose the same setting.
Dissatisfied Not Making Big Changes
Those who were dissatisfied and said they would not choose nursing again were asked what they might do in the next 3 years to address their frustration.
Small numbers said they'd choose a different career path within nursing, retire earlier, reduce their hours, leave nursing to pursue other jobs, or seek other professional training. About a quarter to almost a half said they would not pursue any of those options.
Survey participants commented that nursing paid decently, offered job security, and that it might be too expensive or time-consuming to make a big career change at this point in their life.
APRNs were less likely than RNs and LPNs to say that they planned to act. Not surprisingly, similarly, the survey found that the higher the nurse's educational level, the less likely the nurse was to plan a career change within 3 years.
When asked what they might do if they left nursing, some respondents said they'd start their own business, pursue an MBA, or go to physical therapy, dental, or medical school.
The desire to become a physician did not necessarily reflect badly on nursing as a career, said one respondent. "I am not sorry about my nursing career, which has been rich and fulfilling, but if I had to do it over again, I would pursue medicine as a career," the nurse commented.
Medscape Medical News © 2017 WebMD, LLC
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Cite this: Most Nurses Have Few to No Regrets About Career Choice - Medscape - Jan 25, 2017.