Study Recommends Increased Clinic Hours For Student Nurses


                                                                            BY ASRN STAFF

A new research study indicates changes that could reduce turnover among newly licensed nurses. The study, led by the American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN), points to a divide between nurses' idealistic expectations upon entering school and the realities they face in their first jobs. This recommends improvements for both nursing schools and the work environment.

About 18% of newly licensed RNs are leaving their first nursing employer within a year of starting work, and about 26% leave within two years. High turnover is an expense that can strain hospital budgets, exacerbate the nursing shortage, and negatively impact patient care.

The study surveyed 612 new nurses from 34 states and the District of Columbia. The researchers found that many novice nurses are dissatisfied with their first jobs due to a variety of unexpected situations they face in the primarily hospital-based environments where they begin their careers. Regardless of their negative perceptions, many of the nurses who responded to the survey felt hopeful that they could help reform work environments and patient care. Some suggested that improving the nurse-to-patient ratio was critical for improving professional satisfaction as well as patient safety.

"Many feel they could be more effective caregivers to patients if they simply had more time to spend with them. Instead, they feel mounting pressure to rush through rounds and fill out paperwork, which is not why they chose to go into nursing," said Tina Montclair, a spokesperson for ASRN.

Among the findings: The nurses talked about the relentless pressure for speed and the difficulty of the many demands that are placed on them. Some nurses in the study told researchers that tasks in their first jobs do not reflect what they learned in nursing school. Many also expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of time they can spend with patients, while others felt their work was not appreciated by hospital physicians, administrators, and in some cases, more senior nurse managers. The nurses were particularly concerned with the communication patterns of those with whom they work.

The report also recommends that nursing schools can help reduce the number of nurses leaving the profession by giving students a more realistic idea of the pressures and workload they are likely to face in their first jobs. Rather than working four- or six-hour shifts, student nurses should be scheduled for eight-hour shifts and be given responsibility for more patients, the respondents said. When they get out of school, they are likely to face 12-hour shifts juggling four or more patients with complex medical conditions, the study noted.

The students also said they would have benefited from more practice on communications skills and conflict resolution so they could interact effectively with physicians, make proper notes in patients' charts, and handle shift changes.

"Nurses today are intellectually, emotionally, and physically drained," Montclair explained. The school teaches relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing, and encourages students to keep reflective journals. "Until you take care of yourself, you can't take care of someone else," she said. Several respondents stated that, in the face of these challenges, they love their work.

Despite the economic upturn and tightening job market, the U.S. health care system continues to face a projected shortfall of up to 1,260,000 full-time equivalent nurses by 2025. Understanding why nurses leave their jobs within the first 18 months of their careers could help hospital managers better direct resources and keep their workforces stable, while helping to improve hospital finances--and patient care--in the process.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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