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Nurses satisfied overall: new workplace survey

A survey of primary healthcare nurses has found that 46.2 per cent believe they could be doing more at work, and when they've asked for more responsibility, 27.9 per cent report that managers didn’t approve the request.

These are just two of the findings from a national survey of 2052 primary healthcare nurses undertaken by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) and the new Health Professionals Bank.

Other insights gleaned include that 27 per cent of the nurses surveyed believe that they could do more with their knowledge and skills, and 12 per cent believe that most of the time they don’t get to use their skills and knowledge to their full extent.

APNA’s president Karen Booth thinks this is an important insight.

“There are a large number of nurses, particularly in primary healthcare and general practice in particular, who feel they aren't being utilised to their full skill set,” she said.

“They're trained to do this really dynamic work, and they feel that they have so much more to offer their workplaces and their patients than they're currently doing.”

As for views on professional development, nurse responses were mixed.

Thirty-three per cent of the nurses surveyed were currently studying a postgraduate university course. However, some 31.8 per cent of nurses found that inadequate staffing levels prevented shift covers and that this impeded their ability to undertake education and training.

Thirty-one per cent of nurses said they didn’t have the time to attend professional development and training, and over 60 per cent found training too expensive.

To this point, Booth believes employers can do better, as professional development benefits the workplace in the long run.

“Sponsorship from their workplace or sponsorship to scholarship schemes would be helpful,” she said.

“Some employers are very good in that they'll pay full CPD or they'll give nurses time off, but it's not across the board. A lot of nurses have to do all of that in their own time. They take annual leave.

“All of those important things they learn, they actually bring back to the workplace and benefit the workplace,” she said.

However, overall, nurses were happy in their work.

When asked if they were satisfied with their current role, over 70 per cent of nurses were satisfied or very satisfied.

Thirty-six per cent of nurses were satisfied with their salary – 28.8 per cent were dissatisfied – and nearly 80 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with their physical work environment, their relationships at work, the trust and respect in the workplace, and, importantly, the job overall.

Booth believes that these types of surveys are an important way of gauging the wellbeing of the sector.

“It helps us to get a better idea of the type of skills the workforce has, how well their skills are utilised, and their sense of satisfaction,” she said.

“Are people happy in their workplace? Having a sense of satisfaction and pride in your work, of course, is one of the main things that keeps nurses, in particular, in their workplaces”.

APNA’s partnership with the new Health Professionals Bank has funded this recent survey, and the offshoot of the Teachers Mutual Bank aims to be an ethical bank that helps its members. Booth thinks that they will appeal to the specific needs of nurses and midwives, such as shift work, and that this bank is a move back to the community-style bank of old.

Health Professionals Bank general manager Carolyn Murphy said: "We are the first and only bank dedicated to health professionals and their families. So we're ... different to the big four. We're a customer-owned bank, so all of our members are part-owners in the bank, and all of our profits and surplus are reinvested into the communities in which they serve.

"We won't invest in any harmful projects and so on – no fossil fuel projects, tobacco, gross environmental harms – and recently our deposits and mortgages were rated socially responsible.

"We have no monthly fee on our transaction account. We have a great credit card which won awards as a transactor card. It has no fees on that, no additional card fees."

The Health Professionals Bank launches March 12.

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