As nurses work so closely with patients, their satisfaction can have a direct impact on care outcomes and ultimately the success of an entire medical facility. Whether nurses feel happy in their job, valued by their employers, and able to progress in their careers, are all factors in the level of satisfaction they experience.
Nurses want to improve their patients’ lives and provide excellent care, but the work is often demanding. To experience a meaningful sense of personal fulfillment, remain in their role, and perform optimally, they need to feel satisfied in their work environment. Here are some of the main factors which can influence how nurses feel about their work and the position they occupy:
Choice of location and workplace
Nurses want options when it comes to choosing a place to live and a facility to work in. Whether they seek the excitement of a large urban hospital or prefer the rural charms of a small clinic, working in a location they enjoy and want to build their life in can have a huge impact on nurse satisfaction.
All of the best cities for nurses in the US need senior healthcare professionals, and practitioners who want to move up the career ladder can study a Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner, at Walsh University. This flexible program is delivered by experienced faculty members and provides students with the knowledge and practical skills they need to provide primary care to patients of all ages. As the course can be completed in as little as two years, qualified nurses can be ready to relocate to their preferred location in very little time.
The ability to practice with autonomy
Nurses get into the profession because they want to provide care as part of a team, but they also need the opportunity to practice independently and to use their judgment. To do this successfully, they need the support of their nurse managers and other senior colleagues in terms of feedback, mentorship, and clear policies around working autonomously. Support provides clinicians with the confidence to carry out their tasks without fear of being questioned or overruled.
Nurses who understand their level of authority and can use their knowledge to inform how they care for patients. As a result, they feel valued and appreciated at work. The more experience they gain, the more skilled and confident they become. From involving them with clinical decision making to giving them a say in procedures and organizational practices, a degree of autonomy in the workplace ensures nurses reach their full potential and maintain their job satisfaction.
Developing a good financial compensation package
Everyone wants to be paid appropriately for a job well done and nurses are no different. Medical professionals need to cover their expenses adequately, so they can focus on their work, rather than worrying about their finances. The government recognizes the link between attracting and retaining nurses, and financial compensation, which is why the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program was launched. This pays off up to 85% of a nurse’s tuition fees if they work for two years in specific areas of the profession.
Building perks into a nurse’s annual salary
Healthcare facilities can build on the government’s commitment by providing reimbursement packages of their own, such as subsidizing childcare, and creating other perks that will attract nurses. Furthermore, to maintain a team of satisfied practitioners, hospitals and clinics should be transparent about the salary increases they offer to loyal staff. Publicizing a scheme with set policies for promotions and raises, shows nurses a pathway for better pay and can be highly motivational.
Nurturing a positive workplace culture
The culture of a working environment is made up of various aspects of the organization. These include the style of leadership in play, the traditions that have emerged, the behaviors of staff, and the attitudes they display. These factors come together to form a personality, one that staff experience daily. Research has shown that a ‘positive work culture will always support the healthcare professional-patient relationship’, as it builds the confidence of those providing care. Aside from being beneficial for patients, a happy workplace that people look forward to coming into and being part of is crucial for job satisfaction.
Treating every nurse fairly and equally
Facilities that work to prioritize inclusion and diversity make everyone on the team feel welcome and comfortable. People feel they belong in the organization, that their voice is heard, and they can seek help when they need it without being judged harshly. This is achieved most effectively by using organizational structures that promote equity and quash discrimination. Nurses who are working in a positive environment feel safe and content. They are more likely to remain in their role and suggest nursing as a career option to others.
Ensuring that nurses can enjoy an appropriate work-life balance
Caring for others is tiring, both emotionally and physically, so in order to remain satisfied in their role, nurses need a good work-life balance. Hospitals can make this more achievable in several ways.
Primarily, they can be open to employing sufficient numbers of nurses, so people do not have to cover multiple extra shifts and design rotas that fit in with nurses’ needs. Nurses often must work weekends and other shifts in addition to their hours, because of increased staffing needs at their facility. Although it can be tempting for nurses who would appreciate the additional pay, it can be tiring and may impact their quality of life.
Designing schedules that work around nurses
Schedules should include flexibility, so if nurses want to change between early and late shifts, depending on their home commitments, their preferences can be accommodated. Furthermore, nurse managers should encourage their teams to manage their personal and professional experiences effectively.
This can include living a healthy lifestyle, having hobbies that reduce stress, spending time with loved ones, and being alone occasionally. In practice, nurses should feel confident in booking vacation days, even if they are just staying at home. In almost any sector, a healthy work-life balance is important for employee satisfaction, and nursing is no different.
Allowing nurses to work without interruption
Senior teams in healthcare facilities should strive to reduce the number of interruptions nurses have to manage each day. Whether these arise from interactions with other members of the healthcare team or patients, they can have a negative impact on patient care and a nurse’s workload.
The problem can be remedied in several ways, but most importantly, high staff to patient ratios mean everyone is in less of a hurry to complete their tasks and can spend more time with patients. As a result, patient satisfaction levels also rise and nurses feel under less pressure to get things done.
Ensuring nurses feel a sense of pride in their work
Nurses who work very hard but come home feeling they did not accomplish all their goals for that shift, are unlikely to feel satisfied in their role. Therefore, managers need to find ways of ensuring nurses can prioritize their workload. From the creation of interruption-free zones in wards, to staff wearing clothing with slogans such as ‘do not interrupt’, there are many ways to minimize the distractions a nurse deals with and make their working day more productive.
Recognizing commitment and achievement regularly
According to research carried out by McKinsey, nurses are ‘looking for more support from the organizations that employ them’. If the workforce is to be maintained year after year, recognition in the form of spoken appreciation and financial rewards for nurses should become part of standard procedures in medical facilities. These impact how nurses feel about their position in the workplace, their commitment, and the job satisfaction they experience. Positive and genuine feedback is crucial to ensure nurses feel appreciated and satisfied in their posts.
Praise does not have to be extravagant
Acknowledging a nurse’s work on a day-to-day basis can take the form of verbal praise. Even a ‘thank you’ after a tough day can be a morale booster. Along with kind words, practical shows of appreciation are needed, such as celebrating special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, or National Nurses Week. Additionally, providing an extra day off or creating a praise wall in the staff area can make a positive difference to how nurses feel about their job. Finally, financial rewards such as gift cards and bonuses can be a clear sign that the organization values individuals and their continued dedication.
Nurses’ wellbeing is a priority in the hospital
Although patient care will always be a priority, nurses should also see that the workplace cares about their wellbeing. Nurses can be encouraged to reach out if they need support or extra breaks, but organized wellness programs can be an important investment as well. These may include networking events during which nurses get to connect with others in a relaxed environment, frequent one-to-one sessions during which managers give supportive feedback and hosted events. Evenings out with a meal and entertainment allow nurses to unwind and meet up with colleagues in an informal way. These care programs and events nurture stronger, happier, and more energized nurses who are more likely to be satisfied employees.
Access to various forms of professional development
Access to professional development in the form of training, certification, or new experiences can enhance a nurse’s self-esteem and give them more confidence. They can test the skills they currently have and develop new competencies, which allow them to enhance their practice. By discovering new opportunities and building their knowledge, nurses are better placed to spot important research papers and identify potential weaknesses in new procedures, which is useful for the organization as a whole. Additionally, professional development keeps nurses inspired and motivated by encouraging them to see their work in a different, more complex way.
Building reflective practice and nurturing professional maturity
As part of professional development, most healthcare facilities include reflective practice. This allows nurses to consider their role introspectively and develop their emotional intelligence. This straightforward form of self-analysis is useful when nurses are trying to understand the value of their work and feel a sense of personal satisfaction. Reflection is not about either boasting or feeling remorse, rather it involves examining incidents on the ward and using them as learning opportunities. This can lead to nurses making more important and useful contributions to their facility and achieving a greater degree of job satisfaction as a result.
Offering regular opportunities for career progression
Not all nurses want to move up the ranks and take on leadership roles, but those that do should feel able to pursue their goals. Nurse managers can help them to access further education, let them know more about the career paths open to them, and tell them how to seek out further information. When nurses across a facility are given the resources, they need to improve their skill set and choose a specialty, the hospital nurtures its own pool of talent.
Better outcomes for nurses and the facilities they work for
The opportunity for career development and all it brings – from a better salary to more responsibility and job security – is a significant enabler of job satisfaction. Nurse leaders should make themselves available regularly to review the team’s career aspirations and concerns formally. They might help to plan a nurse’s career progression by designing a pathway with milestones they need to reach to meet their goals.
By adding a learning pathway to complement this, a nurse manager can help an employee to see what competencies, skills, or certifications they need to focus on. As these are met, the organization can provide rewards in recognition of the nurse’s additional effort and dedication. Discussing career opportunities and supporting achievements shows the facility is prepared to invest in the nurses’ career, and their future. This empowers nurses and can also nurture their loyalty and desire to remain in their role.
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