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What Makes a Hospital Nurse-Friendly?

When researchers for the National Institutes of Health looked at causes of job stress in nurses, it found that job factors had bigger impacts on nurses’ stress than other factors, which included demographic, psychological, physical, chemical and biological factors. Job factors include (but are not limited to) lack of priorities, having multiple bosses, lack of training, work conditions (such as light and temperature), and inappropriate feedback.

Nurses in the job market are looking for positive, uplifting, nurse-friendly environments, where they can help people and grow in their own careers. There are a few things that nurses can look for as they look for places to work.

5 Workplace Environment Must-Haves

Aside from the fact that the employees simply seem to feel good and enjoy their jobs, there are other ways for nurses to determine if the hospital they work at – or want to work at – is nurse-friendly:

1. Nurse Skills are Supported

Nurses go through years of school to obtain a wealth of healthcare knowledge so they can provide expert and quality care to patients and support doctors and healthcare providers who treat patients. A healthcare organization that recognizes the training and qualifications of nurses will also employ a support staff of nursing assistants, student nurses and orderlies who take care of patients’ basic needs so nurses can oversee their medical care.

2. Nurses’ Opinions are Taken into Consideration

Nurses often spend more time with patients than other healthcare providers. This time provides nurses with additional knowledge of a patient’s health needs, as well as their personal needs, which can truly facilitate the culture of care. A culture of care requires respect for all personnel, including nurses, in their contribution to patient care. Personnel practices must assure all personnel be treated with respect.

3. Flexible Scheduling is Available

Even in the most idealistic settings, nurses work harried schedules. However, the ability to have input into scheduling, take personal or sick days without penalty (particularly for those nurses with children), or to re-evaluate scheduling within reason is very important for a nurse’s ability to be satisfied with the work environment. Additionally, nurses are not widgets, to be moved around randomly – attention to the nurse’s professional background, expertise, and experience is critical in scheduling. Budget based, nurse-patient ratio and patient acuity scheduling are three scheduling models for nurses.

4. Training Resources for Certification and Advancement are Provided

An essential component of nursing is being adequately certified. Given the demanding schedule of many nurses, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain proper professional certifications – let alone remain abreast of more current published evidence. For this reason, hospitals that provide support for education, if not by providing the education itself, tend to attract and retain more nurses.

5. Resources are Offered and Available

Though technological resources can sometimes be costly, they are also cost-effective as they enable nurses to perform their jobs faster and more effectively. Hospitals that ensure access to such resources attract and retain top-tier nursing professionals.

Things to Avoid in a Hospital Environment

On the other hand, there are several things that hospitals may do that drive qualified nurse leaders and nursing professionals away. Obviously, offering little support for continued education, having limited technological advancements or resources, and providing little respect are things that compromise a hospital’s ability to keep a nurse:

  • When Flexible Scheduling Hurts: Nurses who are seeking hospital employment should also ensure that flexible scheduling is available. While some nurses do not have family obligations at the time of their hiring, that could change, and already being employed by an institution that has flexible scheduling is a matter of great importance.
  • Mandatory Overtime: Hospitals that require mandatory overtime (even if flexible scheduling is an option) diminish morale. After all, what good is a flexible schedule if overtime is required afterward? In that case, overtime becomes a punishment or a bargain for the flexible scheduling which diminishes the positive value of flexible scheduling, not to mention potentially creating legal issues.
  • Financial Freeze Outs: Another thing that repels qualified nurses is lack of support in the monetary sense. Nurses who are undercompensated financially or who become stuck in a repeating pattern of no merit raises or improved compensation will seek employment elsewhere.

Nurse-Friendly Workplace Summary Checklist

Nursing is one of the most fulfilling and meaningful career paths, and it’s best performed in an environment that supports the significance of a nurse’s professional commitment; thus, when seeking a hospital to work in, nurses should look for:

  • Encouraging management
  • Appropriate compensation
  • Technological support
  • Un-penalized flexible scheduling
  • Mutual respect between fellow professionals
  • Appropriate professional responsibilities
  • Training resources and support

Additionally, and perhaps most essentially, nurses should feel comfortable in their work environment. After all, there is no way to be happy in a work environment – regardless of how well it checks out – unless the environment suits the employee.