Nurse Survey Reveals Career Pride, Lower Job Satisfaction


By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

With an evolving health care marketplace, nurses remain intensely proud of their profession and are satisfied with their nursing career choice, but not their current jobs, according to AMN Healthcare’s 2015 Survey of Registered Nurses.

“Nurses love what they do,” said Marcia Faller, PhD, RN, chief clinical officer for AMN Healthcare, the nation’s largest health care staffing company. “They got into the career for a reason--to care for people and help them improve their health. The career allows them to do that and they recommend a nursing career to others, yet they are not as happy with their job for a number of reasons.”

Those reasons include inadequate pay, too heavy a workload, staffing shortages, difficulty with management, and too many hours or poor scheduling. About half of the nurses surveyed thought their jobs were affecting their health. Thirty percent said they often feel like resigning, and 21 percent indicated plans to change positions but remain working as a nurse.

The 2015 survey reflects responses from 8,828 registered nurses in a variety of settings. Eighty-five percent of nurses reported feeling satisfied with their choice of a nursing career, down from 90 percent in 2013. Nurses with higher degrees were slightly more satisfied with their career choice than other nurses.

And 67 percent of respondents said they would encourage other people to become a nurse. Younger nurses were more inclined to recommend a nursing career than their older colleagues, as were nurses with graduate degrees.

However, only 63 percent of the responding nurses are satisfied with their current nursing jobs, down from 73 percent in 2013.

Opportunities ahead

These frustrations may lead nurses to seek other opportunities, such as travel nursing, which provides opportunities to gain experience in different working environments or even try one out before accepting a position.

“A lot of nurses travel in order to find the place that is the right fit for the long term,” Faller said. “They move around and look for an organization that has the same values as they do.”

About 6 percent of the respondents said they plan to work as a travel nurse. NICU and ER/trauma nurses were the most inclined to consider travel nursing, at 11 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Faller indicated opportunities also exist for travel nurses to act as preceptors in training nurses in specialty areas. Travelers need to be well versed in computer documentation.

The changing health care industry offers opportunities for nurses in new and emerging roles, such as care coordinators, health coaches and patient navigators. Seventy-two percent of the surveyed nurses were aware of these new positions, and 30 percent expressed an interest in entering a new role. Sixty-two percent of nurses indicated they would start a training program for a new role, if one were available.

That interest in learning is just the beginning of nurses’ commitment to attaining greater education. Nineteen percent of all nurses and 36 percent of nurses younger than 40 years had set a goal of becoming an advanced practice nurse and had either enrolled in a program or were considering it.

Nearly half of the respondents, 49 percent, said they planned to pursue a higher degree in nursing within the next three years. Nurses younger than 40 years were particularly interested in more degrees, with 77 percent indicating they planned to pursue a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree in nursing within the next three years.

Education is a means to changing to a more satisfying nursing position. Faller reported an increased demand by employers to hire and contract for travel nurses with bachelor’s degrees.

“A higher level of education will put them on top of the pick list for a travel nurse position,” Faller said.

Quality of care

Nurses reported a high degree of satisfaction, 73 percent, with the quality of care they provide. Nurses with doctoral degrees felt more strongly, with 81 percent of them reporting satisfaction with the quality of care they provide patients.

Yet only 36 percent of nurses think they have enough time to spend with patients. More home health nurses than any other specialty reported satisfaction with the amount of time they could spend with patients, 57 percent. While only 23 percent of rehab and telemetry nurses felt they had enough time with patients.

Faller said many younger nurses feel more positively about the changes occurring in health care, such as increased use of technology and other advancements. Unlike older nurses, who learned to do backrubs and spend time comforting patients, newer nurses do not enter the profession with those expectations.

For more insights about RNs’ views on their nursing career and more, download the full survey:
2015 Survey of Registered Nurses: Viewpoints on Retirement, Education and Emerging Roles.

Looking for a change in your nursing career? Design your ideal travel nursing job, and we’ll help you find it.

© 2015. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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