AMN RN Survey: Workplace Pressures Grow but Sustainable Solutions Available

Rising demand for services plus a tsunami of Baby Boomer retirements and overall nurse shortages are creating growing pressures for registered nurses that will likely get worse in the coming decade, according to a recently released survey of nearly 20,000 RNs by AMN Healthcare. But sustainable solutions can improve both the professional and personal lives of RNs.

The challenges and solutions are revealed in AMN Healthcare 2019 Survey of Registered Nurses: A Challenging Decade Ahead, which found serious warning signs for the decade of the 2020s. These include that significant percentages of nurses are working second jobs – many with two full-time jobs. Many survey respondents also said they are unable to spend the time they need with patients, and most have been affected by some form of workplace violence. Nurses are concerned that their jobs affect their health, and many say they are planning to leave their current jobs in the near future.

Pressures on nurses may intensify in the next decade as the aging of America quickens pace, which will increase demand for healthcare services (people 65+ have three times more hospital days than the middle aged) and accelerate the retirement wave of Baby Boomer nurses. At the same time, the healthcare industry will be continuing to undergo dramatic structural changes due to consolidation, technology shifts and the movement to value-based care.

The key findings of the AMN 2019 RN survey include that more than one in five nurses holds more than one job, and 7% hold two full-time jobs. Two-thirds worry that their jobs are affecting their health, 44% say they often feel like quitting their jobs, and 41% say they usually don’t have the time they need to spend with their patients.

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More than two in five nurses say they have been victims of bullying, incivility, or other forms of workplace violence, while an additional one in four say they have witnessed workplace violence. Among nurses who were victims or who witnessed workplace violence, 63% say their organization did not address the situation well at all.

The survey also found important ways for healthcare organizations to improve the lives of their nurses, both professionally and personally.

  • Professional development: Nurses who say their organizations strongly support professional development have greater job satisfaction and are more likely to remain at the current jobs. But nearly 30% of survey respondents say their employer does not do well at professional development. Offering greater professional development opportunities can lead to better engagement and retention.
  • Diversity: Organizational support for workplace diversity is linked to greater job satisfaction and likelihood to remain at a current job. Most nurses say their employers do a good job at supporting diversity, but a significant portion say otherwise. Active support for workplace diversity can not only improve overall job satisfaction but also attract nurses to work at an organization.
  • Work-life balance and flexibility: Nurses said that work-life balance and flexibility were greater inducements to remain at their current jobs than compensation and benefits. Healthcare organizations can put greater emphasis on work-life balance for their nurses to improve recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction.
  • Workplace violence: Survey analysis showed that job satisfaction and similar indicators among nurses were higher when organizations did a good job of addressing workplace violence, which is a recognized hazard of the healthcare industry. Improving response to incidences of violence is a powerful way to help create a healthy workplace.
  • Safety practices: Improving safety practices can have the greatest positive influence on nurses’ ability to provide quality patient care, according to the RN survey.
Cole Edmonson

Cole Edmonson
Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN, FAONL, is chief clinical officer at AMN Healthcare.

Cole Edmonson

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