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Work Experiences of the Interdisciplinary Dialysis Workforce in the United States: A Cross-Sectional Survey.

INTRODUCTION: Suboptimal dialysis care may be in part due to staff issues such as job dissatisfaction, burnout, work overload, high staff turnover, and inconsistent training. Here, we leveraged data collected in a recent national survey to provide an initial, comprehensive description of current work experiences of U.S. dialysis care providers.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1240 active U.S. dialysis clinic staff members (physicians, advanced practice providers, nurse managers/clinic coordinators, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and patient care technicians), who were recruited via emails to society membership lists. Respondents were asked about a wide variety of work experiences, including job satisfaction, professional fulfillment and burnout (Stanford Professional Fulfillment Index), work culture, experiences of hostility and violence, and self-reported medical errors. Responses were summarized overall and compared by clinic role.

RESULTS: Most of the survey respondents, representing all 50 U.S. states, were aged 35-49 (58.3%) or ≥50 (23.5%), female (60.7%), and white (59.8%; 23.1% Black and 10.0% Asian); 82.1% had been in their current role for at least 1 year. Most U.S. dialysis staff responding to our survey reported being generally satisfied with their jobs (mean rating of 7.9 on 0-10 scale), but only 54.4% met criteria for professional fulfillment, and 32.8% met criteria for burnout, driven by high scores in the work exhaustion domain. Related issues, including high workloads, lack of respect (including experiences of violence and hostility), lack of autonomy, and suboptimal patient environments (in terms of both safety and patient-centeredness), were commonly reported among dialysis care providers, although their prevalence often differed by provider type.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the dialysis workforce may be at a critical point. Preventing further staff burn out, which could lead to even greater staffing shortages and worse working conditions among those who continue to provide dialysis care, is essential.

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