Recent Research About Nursing, August 2009

    • August 31, 2009

New studies find that nurses’ pay is increasing, the recession is causing nurses to work longer hours, nurses worldwide worry that patient care is suffering from increased demands on their time, and emergency room nurses are frequent targets for physical and verbal abuse.

RN Pay Increasing, Survey Finds

Nurses are among several groups of health care professionals earning more during 2008, according to the 2009 Compensation Data Healthcare study. Registered Nurses’ salaries increased 9.2 percent in 2008, while home health aides saw pay increase by 11.2 percent. Other health care professionals earning more last year included occupational and physical therapists, both earning 10 percent more. The data were gathered and reported by Compdata Surveys, which credits the aging population with driving increased demand for services provided by certain health care workers, which in turn has led to increased salaries.

Separate research conducted by AMN Healthcare, a health care staffing company, offers insights into how the recession is affecting take home pay for nurses. The company surveyed May 2009 visitors to and, and found that 47 percent of respondents said they were working more overtime, had taken a second job, or were returning to work full time. Similarly 58 percent said they were working more hours than they did one year ago. Twenty percent of respondents said that the increased work hours were temporary, and that they plan to return to their previous work schedules when the economy rebounds.

International Survey Finds that Patient Care Suffers from Overworked Nurses

Heavy workloads and insufficient staff affect patient care and health outcomes around the world, according to a global survey of more than 2,000 nurses. The results were released at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) 24th Quadrennial Congress in early July. The survey finds that nine in ten nurses (92 percent) face time constraints that prevent them from spending enough time with individual patients as they think necessary. Nearly all nurses surveyed (96 percent) say that spending more time with individual patients would have a significant impact on patient health.


Other findings from the research include:

  • Nearly half of nurses (46 percent) say their workload is worse today compared to five years ago, potentially impacting the quality of patient care.
  • Nursing as a career is viewed as worse today than it was five years ago in Canada (52 percent), the United States (46 percent), Taiwan (45 percent), and the United Kingdom (39 percent); however nurses in Kenya (71 percent), Brazil (64 percent) and South Africa (63 percent) see their roles improving over the last five years.
  • Internationally, nurses favor expanding their health care responsibilities, including the authority to prescribe medicines to patients. Eight in ten (83 percent) nurses surveyed say they currently do not have authority to prescribe medicines, and seven in ten (70 percent) say they favor nurses having prescription authority. Most U.S. nurses (59 percent) disagreed, however.




Emergency Room Nurses Face Violence on the Job

More than half of emergency room nurses report having been physically assaulted on the job, according to an online survey conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association and reported in the July/August 2009 issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration. The violence included being spit on, hit, pushed or shoved, scratched, and kicked.


In addition, fully one-quarter of these nurses report having been the target of this kind of physical violence 20 times or more in the past three years. Verbal abuse was also common, according to the survey: One in five nurses said they had been the victims of on-the-job verbal abuse 200 or more times in the past three years.


Many of the reported causes of such violence, according to the study, centered on the unique role of emergency departments, which see patients under the influence of drugs and alcohol and psychiatric patients, face shortages of nurses, crowding, and long wait times.