Everyone can agree that nurses are essential to the success of the hospital, and now there’s a study to prove they are the most important contributing employee to the bottom line. They take the profession seriously and possess a high level of skills that allow them to deliver exceptional patient care. They conduct more than 100 tasks per shift, all while being interrupted every three minutes. The reality of being a nurse in today’s healthcare delivery system is overwhelming and seemingly impossible at times. Emotional exhaustion, physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder are common ailments our nurses are facing.
Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise or secret that nurses are overworked. This heightens the concern for organizations that depend on performance and results-driven reimbursement. Patient satisfaction and quality indicators, such as high HCAHPS scores, as well as reducing readmissions are some of the top priorities for hospitals across the country. These priorities make the task of delivering quality care harder for nurses to achieve -- let alone when paired with exhaustion.
Job dissatisfaction among nurses in hospitals contributes to costly labor disputes, high turnover rates and risk to patients. A federal government study found that nursing vacancies will reach 29 percent by 2020. The number of nurses is only expected to grow by six percent by 2020, while the demand for nurses is projected to increase by 40 percent. With the aging of the current nursing population and the general disinterest of young people to consider nursing as a profession, it is more critical than ever to focus on nurses’ job satisfaction.
Here are two ways hospitals can improve nurses’ satisfaction.
Overtime has a higher price tag than the burden it puts on labor costs. A study conducted by Health Affairs found a significant correlation between long work hours and nurse reports of burnout and job dissatisfaction. Furthermore, studies have found that patient satisfaction suffers when nurses work long hours. Patients were more likely to rate the hospital a 6 or lower on the HCAHPS survey when nurses worked shifts longer than 13 hours.
Reducing healthcare staff’s overtime is easier said than done. However, one option is to drive a fundamental culture change from overtime being the “rule” to it being the exception. If measures are implemented to reduce shift and workweek length, and guidelines are set for what is an acceptable amount of overtime, nurses won’t feel obligated to work extra hours.
Nurses cannot function in isolation, as their profession requires teamwork and effective communication. Five research studies, specifically focused on the influence of teamwork on job satisfaction, found that nurses with more interdisciplinary teamwork reported more satisfaction with their jobs planned to stay in them and had lower burnout scores. Not only do nurses report higher job satisfaction when they work as a team, patient satisfaction is also improved and patient care outcomes are met.
The bottom line? With more satisfied nurses and patients, an organization can look forward to repeat visits by patients, a higher quality of patient outcomes, lower mortality rates and lower levels of failure-to-rescue.
“Patients who have a better quality of care, they’re happy with their care, they are more likely to recommend the hospital to their friends and family,” says Matthew McHugh, PhD, RN. “It’s a win-win for everybody, really.”