Despite expanding workloads and a constant fear of violence and harassment on the job, most nurses would pick the same career again and again.
That’s one of the salient findings of the latest, annual “Nursing Trends and Salary Survey” from American Nurse Today. This year, the professional journal gathered data from 5,262 RNs and NPs about their compensation, professional challenges and more.
The researchers were quick to note that 84 percent of respondents said they’d choose to become a nurse again — especially heartwarming considering only 40 percent of Americans overall say they’d follow the same career. The survey also found that 60 percent of nurses feel their workload has increased, up from 58 percent last year.
Verbal and Physical Harrasment
This year’s report dug into the issue of violence against nurses more so than previous years’. It found 59 percent of respondents experienced verbal assault by a patient within 2 years, and 43 percent from a visitor. More than half of those who’d been harassed were unsatisfied with their employer’s response to the incident, often citing that healthcare organizations care more about patient satisfaction than employee safety.
Physical violence, on the other hand, occurs at much lower rates, but it appears to be increasing. Some 23 percent of respondents reported experiencing physically assault by a patient, up from 20 percent last year. Less than half of those who reported felt satisfied with the handling of the incident. The good news? Some 76 percent of respondents took deescalation training, and majority found it helpful.
Nurse bullying—up or down?
Sadly, rates of nurse bullying had stayed relatively stagnant over the past few years. In 2018 and 2019 respectively, 36 and 35 percent of respondents said a fellow healthcare provider had verbally assaulted them. Even more nurses, 46 percent, say they’ve witnessed bullying.
Roughly 9 percent of this year’s respondents said they’d experienced sexual harassment on the job, compared to 10.5 percent last year; 70 percent of those did not report the incident. Fear of termination played role in the decision to keep the event quiet, with one respondent writing, “I reported a physician for sexual harassment, and I was terminated after 21 years.”
Interestingly, recent research published in the Journal of Women’s Health found much higher rates of sexual harassment among health professionals, men and women. It found 82.5 percent of women and 65.1 percent of men working at an academic medical center had reported at least one incident of sexual harassment by staff, students, and faculty during the previous year. Similarly, 64.4 percent of women and 44.1 percent of men who worked with patients reported experiencing sexual harassment from patients or their families within the prior year. Researchers also found a negative association between sexual harassment and mental health, job satisfaction and sense of safety at work.
Nurses are more in-demand than ever, and the rate of salary increases among this year’s respondents reflects this — 65 percent of managers and 60 percent of clinical nurses said they’d received a raise within the past 12 months. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, however. Only 60 percent of nurses reported feeling satisfied with their pay.
In addition, most respondents said their job provides benefits, with 86 percent receiving sick and vacation time, 82 percent with health insurance, 77 percent with dental and 76 percent earning retirement contributions. Less than 60 percent receive bonuses, disability insurance, professional liability insurance, and reimbursement for tuition and certification, and only 5 percent received no benefits at all.
Perhaps the most telling stat from this section of the survey is more than three-quarters of respondents reported currently looking for a new job or planning to leave within the next three months. Somewhat contradictorily, though, 42 percent of respondents said they plan to stay with their current employer for 5 years or more. Only 10 percent of respondents said they plan to retire within two years.
And that’s good news, considering the struggle nurse managers said they have with hiring. More than half of responded, 54 percent, said they’d seen an increase in job openings in the past year, up from 52 percent in 2018. This year, 56 percent said turnover has gotten worse and 64 percent said recruiting nurses is more difficult.
Respondents reported generally positive relationships at work, contributing to overall job satisfaction. Nine out of 10 nurse managers said they’re satisfied with their relationships with peers (but less satisfied with support from management).
Similarly, 9 out of 10 clinical nurses are satisfied with relationships with peers, but fewer are satisfied with support from immediate supervisors and management. Eight 8 out of 10 are satisfied with job but less satisfied with their pay.
2019 nursing trends and salary survey results, American Nurse Today.