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Study: Improvements made, but progress still needed

Peter Buerhaus, RN, PhD, FAAN, and co-authors conducted a 2004 follow-up study on the nursing shortage and the nursing work environment. They compared data from 2004 to a study that was conducted in 2002. According to a presentation at the American Organization of Nurse Executives' annual meeting, the nursing shortage is in its eighth year, making it four times longer than any other shortage. On a positive note, Buerhaus said, since 2002, the nursing workforce has experienced falling vacancy rates, less turnover, and reduced travel nurse rates.


Forced overtime has long been a point of contention for many nurses. The study indicated that the total amount of overtime decreased from 2002 to 2004. Further, the type of overtime changed, with more nurses indicating voluntary overtime and fewer nurses reporting that it was required.


Researchers asked nurses about how Magnet status affected opportunities to influence decisions such as patient care. The survey reported that there were differences in nurses' autonomy in Magnet hospitals and those applying for Magnet status. Co-presenter Beth Ulrich, RN, CHE, EdD, noted that nursing won't sustain advances if it doesn't keep reevaluating processes.


The study also showed that nurse-to-nurse relationships have gotten even better than nurse-to-physician relationships. In the category of nurses-to-management or nurses-to-nurse managers, nurses enjoy better relationships with frontline managers than with administrators. Ulrich said there was a disconnect between how nurses view their relationships with managers and how managers view those same relationships.


For more information, read the March/April issue of Nursing Economics journal.



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