Role stress and career satisfaction among registered nurses by work shift patterns

Amy J Hoffman, Linda D Scott
Journal of Nursing Administration 2003, 33 (6): 337-42

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the variation in role stress and career satisfaction among hospital-based registered nurses (RNs) by shift length.

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Many hospitals have reorganized care delivery into 12-hour work shifts to improve RN recruitment, retention, and cost effectiveness. Yet little is known about the effects of 12-hour shifts on RN role stress and career satisfaction. As an unprecedented RN shortage approaches, factors that contribute to satisfying and healthy practice environments must be identified.

METHODS: This study used a descriptive cross-sectional research design. Five hundred RNs were randomly selected to receive a mailed questionnaire packet.

RESULTS: Initial findings indicate RNs working 12-hour shifts were younger, less experienced, and more stressed than colleagues working 8-hour shifts. When differences in nursing experience were controlled, similar RN stress levels were found. Although overall career satisfaction was comparable between groups, significant differences were found in the areas of salary and professional status. Pay, autonomy, and professional status were the most important determinants of career satisfaction for all RN participants.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that RNs may experience greater professional fulfillment when strategies are implemented that promote autonomous practice environments, provide financial incentives, and recognize professional status. Proactive decision-making may avert RN disillusionment and avoid other negative consequences that impact quality of care.

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