Australian nurses work the least amount of overtime, are generally happy at work, and have more days off when compared to their international counterparts.
These are the observations of a recent international study into the links between job satisfaction, absenteeism and the intention to leave nursing.
With predicted nursing shortages in the future being blamed on working conditions, and nurse migration emerging as a key concern for the International Council of Nurses, the study aimed to find some commonalities among nurses globally, hopefully leading to some solutions.
The study looked at 6212 RNs from seven countries: Australia, Iceland, Italy, South Korea, Lebanon, Turkey and the US. It used a survey to compare job satisfaction, intention to leave, overtime rates, patient load, and full time versus part time in these countries.
It found that 90 per cent of nurses in South Korea had experienced working overtime in the past three months, the highest rate recorded. In comparison, Australians experienced the lowest rate at 40 per cent.
The study also found that, on the whole, the nurses surveyed were satisfied in their job when quizzed on current position, occupation and teamwork. Nurses working in Iceland (87 per cent) and in Australia (82 per cent) were the happiest in their jobs in comparison with the least satisfied, Turkey and South Korea (36 and 31 per cent respectively).
As for the intention to leave nursing, Lebanese nurses were the most likely to leave, and South Korean nurses the least likely. Nurses with more experience were less likely to leave across the board, and the perceptions of staffing levels greatly influenced the intention to leave. Unsurprisingly, satisfaction with the job lowered the odds of leaving the profession.
Less expected was the finding that the two most satisfied nursing groups – Iceland and Australia – had the highest levels of absenteeism. South Korean nurses were significantly less likely to be absent.
Older nurses, nurses who worked full-time, and those who worked between one and 12 hours of overtime per week were more likely to be absent, as well as those nurses unhappy with the staffing levels in their unit.
Overall, the authors contend that perceived staffing levels were the main reason for absenteeism and the intention to leave the profession.
These findings – although slightly limited, as only one hospital in Australia and one in Lebanon were studied – support calls from Australian nursing bodies for improved staffing ratios.
The study was published in the Journal of Nursing Management.Do you have an idea for a story?
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