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Nurses satisfied with their jobs and lives

Nurses are happier with life and work than other professions with the same level of education, according to a new study.

Nurse in her office. Photo: colourbox

"The high satisfaction of nurses may reflect that they experience their job as very engaging and meaningful", researcher Thomas Hansen (NOVA, HiOA) comments..

Nurses feel their work is valued by patients and their families, and perhaps being close to illness, sorrow and death helps them gain a more positive perspective on their own lives. These factors in turn could promote higher self-evaluation and satisfaction.   

Older and younger equally satisfied

Thomas Hansen ved NOVA, HiOA. Foto: StudioVest/NOVA

The younger and the older nurses are equally satisfied with their jobs.

"We expected that the challenging and stressful aspects of nursing might decrease job satisfaction especially among older workers. However, we found no signs of this," Hansen explains.

The study, published in Nordic journal of nursing research , is authored by Ida Andresen, Thomas Hansen and Ellen Grov. They analyzed data from the large, nationally representative Life Course, Gender and Generation (LOGG, also termed NorLAG) survey.

The study includes 478 nurses and a control group of 3714 non-nurses with the same level of education.

Stressful work

The study shows that nurses report a more hectic and stressful work situation, including more irregular working hours, than do others. For some nurses these aspects may reduce their quality of life, while for others they may contribute to make work more interesting and engaging.

A potentially problematic aspect is that many nurses are placed in temporary positions. The majority of these nurses want a permanent position.

Causes of high job satisfaction

The authors explored the drivers behind the high work satisfaction of nurses. These factors have policy implications insofar as they relate to the shortage and high turnover rates among nurses. 

What seems key to nurses’ contentment is that their work is not too tiring, stressful and hectic; variation in work tasks; management support, and ability to exercise some control over work situation and take part in important work decisions.

"We were surprised not to find a clear relationship between working night shifts and quality of life. Although there is a weak such tendency, it is small and not statistically significant," Ida Andresen explains.

Turnover

Nonetheless, the study shows that thirty per cent of nurses consider to change job. These nurses are generally younger and/or placed in a temporary position. They also tend to report a more stressful work situation and less management valuation.

However, almost just as many of the control group also consider to change job. Hence, on this issue the nurses do not differ much from others with the same level of education.

Nurse shortage

The number of people aged 80 years or over is projected by Statistics Norway to increase fast from 2020 to 2035. In parallel, Statistics Norway predicts a major shortage of workers within health and social services. Specially, Statistics Norway predicts a shortage of 28,000 full-time equivalents of nurses in 2035. 

The spike in nursing shortages highlights the importance of nursing leaders to address the factors that affect job satisfaction and turnover among nurses.

"If nurses are happier and engaged by their work, not only will the satisfaction of nurses and patients go up, but so may also the economic performance of the organization. It is thus important to address organizational stressors such as work overload and lack of support, and improve access to permanent positions," Hansen concludes.

For more information about the study contact senior researcher Thomas Hansen.

Reference:

Andresen, I.H.; Hansen, T. and Grov, E. (2016). Norwegian nurses’ quality of life, satisfaction with job, and their intention to change job – a study based on the LOGG data, Nordic journal of nursing research (at print, available online).

Nina Eriksen Published: Updated: