Mar 19, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by Carol Brewer
Carol S. Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor at the University of Buffalo School of Nursing, leads the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-supported RN Work Project with Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN. The 10-year, longitudinal study is the only one of its kind to study the careers of new nurses. Most recently, the RN Work Project released a study on the recession’s impact on new nurses.
Human Capital Blog: Your most recently-published study looked at registered nurses in the recession. Can you review the most important findings?
Carol Brewer: What we found was fairly interesting and fits with some of the other studies and data we’ve collected on new graduates in the recession. We found that the nurses’ intent to stay at their current job and their organizational commitment was higher than before the recession. We also found some indicators that the work environment was a little better. The nurses report that their relationship with physicians was better, and they had a lighter workload and fewer organizational constraints.
We can interpret this in a few different ways. One is that there has actually been a change for the better in the work environment, and stress and workload are going down a little bit. But we also found that nurses perceived fewer job opportunities, so they may feel like they can’t leave their jobs because there aren’t many other opportunities. They could be making their perceptions fit their reality, which would cause them to rate their environment higher than if they knew they had options and could afford to be pickier.
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.