Recent Research About Nursing, March 2012

New studies examine the recession's impact on nurses' commitment to their current jobs, project a large 2012 nursing shortage in Florida, and connect nursing certification programs to reduced levels of hospital-acquired infections.

    • March 26, 2012

In Tough Economic Times, RNs Report Greater Commitment to Employers

A study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-supported RN Work Project finds that during the recent recession, newly licensed registered nurses (RNs) perceived fewer job opportunities but reported higher commitment to their employers, a better work environment, fewer injuries, and fewer hours worked than newly licensed RNs reported during better economic times. The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

The results of this study were drawn from two surveys of new RNs in 15 states, one conducted in 2006 prior to the recession and the second in 2009 during the recession. The two groups were demographically similar, but the second group of nurses reported significantly better health status (23 percent rated their health as excellent compared with 19 percent of the first group) and fewer needlestick injuries, sprains and strains. The 2009 group also reported working an average of 52 fewer hours during a year and better nurse-physician relationships, and perceived the work environment as significantly better. While the RNs surveyed in 2009 reported a higher level of intent to stay in their current jobs, they were also more likely to be searching for a new job than the RNs surveyed in 2006. In addition, they reported that they perceived fewer job opportunities than the earlier cohort.

“While nurses’ working conditions may have improved slightly from 2006 to 2009, we think that the higher levels of intent to stay in their current jobs among the later cohort of RNs had more to do with the recession and their perception that there were fewer jobs to be had,” said Carol Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the School of Nursing, University at Buffalo. Brewer directs the RN Work Project, together with Christine Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the College of Nursing, New York University. "More likely, these nurses are just biding their time. We found that, despite perceiving fewer opportunities, the nurses were more likely to be searching for a job. Even though the perception is that things seem to be little better with their current employer, they’re still looking for other jobs."

Measuring Florida's 2012 Nursing Shortage

A new study on the nursing workforce in Florida projects a shortage of nearly 16,000 nurses in 2012.

Researchers at the Florida Center for Nursing at the University of Central Florida analyzed survey research data gathered from 483 nurses in the state. Based on that analysis, they concluded that the "recent pattern of decreasing turnover of RNs in 2009, most likely in response to the recession, has leveled off or reversed in 2011."

Moreover, the combination of a recovering economy and increased demand for health care is driving a nursing shortage. The researchers calculated 8,994 currently vacant RN positions in the state, and 6,746 additional RN positions that were expected to be created in 2012, as a result of increasing demand for care from that state's aging population. The combined result is a nursing shortage of 15,740 nurses in the Sunshine State in 2012.

Specialty Nursing Certifications Linked to Lower Rates of Hospital-Acquired Infections

New research drawing on the American Nurses Association's (ANA’s) National Database for Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) links nursing certifications with lower rates of hospital-acquired infection.

According to HealthLeaders Media, the findings were presented at the ANA's January Nursing Quality Conference in Las Vegas. The study found that hospital critical care units that had higher percentages of registered nurses with national specialty certifications had lower rates of central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Specifically, Critical Care Registered Nurse certification was associated with lower rates of CAUTI, and Cardiac Surgical Certification was associated with lower rates of CLABSI.

"There is a tremendous amount of further education that happens when you do certifications," said ANA NDNQI program specialist Pam Hinshaw, MSN, RN, CCM, "and then once you complete the certification, the learning never really ends."

recommended reading

  • The RN Work Project