Almost All Nurses in Survey Are Happy They Chose Nursing

Marcia Frellick

December 04, 2019

Almost all nurses in a recent Medscape survey said they are glad they chose nursing.

Satisfaction was highest for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), at 99%, and the lowest was a tie between licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs), both at 94%.

The Medscape Nurse Career Satisfaction Report 2019 reflected responses from 10,690 nurses overall.

However, numbers differed widely in satisfaction when nurses were asked whether they would choose the same educational preparation. LPNs were least likely to say they would choose the same educational path (37% said they would), followed by RNs (57%).

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) were more confident that they had chosen the right educational path, with satisfaction ranging from 63% to 69% across the four APRN categories. In addition to CNSs in the survey, APRNs included certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), nurse midwives (NMs), and nurse practitioners (NPs).

Helping Others Drives Satisfaction

Again this year, the top reason for satisfaction was helping people/making a difference in people's lives: 41% to 46% of LPNs and RNs listed that reason first. APRNs listed that first and at similar percentages, with the exception of CRNAs, whose top satisfaction drivers were divided between "helping people/making a difference in people's lives" (20%) and "working to the full extent of my education, certification, and licensure" (14%).

The least satisfying aspect for RNs and LPNs was administration and workplace politics (26% and 21%, respectively, said that was least satisfying). For APRNs, those factors were also among the least favored, but they also were least satisfied with the amount of documentation required. CNSs and CRNAs were more bothered by office politics and administration — perhaps because they are typically hospital-based, the report authors note.

NPs and NMs were more likely to report that they were most dissatisfied with documentation requirements, with the pressure to see a certain amount of patients each day a near second.

Other reasons for dissatisfaction mentioned by respondents included "dealing with prior authorizations," "bullying from nurses," "night or weekend call," "incivility of nursing students," and "being floated to another unit without training."

Dissatisfied nurses were asked what their plans were. LPNs were the most likely to say they would leave nursing and seek a new career path (18%). Among the other groups, between 5% and 10% said they would leave nursing.

Pursuing a new path within nursing was a popular choice, and RNs led the way with 24% saying that's what they plan to do. Almost as many NPs agreed (22%), followed by LPNs, at 20%.

Between 13% and 19% of all dissatisfied nurses said they would likely retire earlier than they had planned.

All nurses were asked at what age they plan to retire. The survey answers suggest that, on average, a 30-year-old nurse expects to retire by age 59 and nurses aged 65 who are currently working expect to retire at age 68.

Financially Ready for Retirement?

The nurses who said they were the most ready for retirement were also the highest paid: CRNAs. With 78% answering that they were financially ready for retirement, they were far more confident than NPs and CNSs (both 58%), NMs (54%), RNs (45%), and LPNs (27%).

Male nurses tend to feel more financially prepared for retirement, the study authors write (57% vs 46% for women).

A large proportion of nurses are approaching retirement age, but answers to the survey indicate that fewer than half will receive guidance on retirement planning or will be granted changes such as less physical work or reduced hours as they approach retirement age.

Numbers who said their workplace offered less physical work as nurses headed toward retirement were particularly low: only 5% to 8% said that was an option offered.

LPNs were the group most likely to report that they would receive none of those benefits (62%). Among other groups, between 41% and 51% said their employer did not offer those benefits.

Regardless of specialty, early-career nurses (5 years or less on the job) said they got their first job quickly — within 3 months. Study authors compared starting pay and found that LPNs made $19.04 an hour, RNs made $25.31, and NPs made $34.05. About 10% in all three categories got a hiring bonus.

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