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Keywords:

  • job satisfaction;
  • nursing;
  • skills-mix;
  • staffing levels;
  • workloads

This paper reports the findings of a survey undertaken in Queensland, Australia in October 2001. The participants were registered and enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing who were members of the industrial body – the Queensland Nursing Union (QNU), and who were in paid employment in nursing in Queensland. Participants were selected by random sampling from each of the three major employment groups – the aged care, public and private acute sectors. Of the 2800 invited participants, 1477 responded resulting in an overall response rate of 53%. The findings indicate that over 50% of nurses in the aged-care sector, 32% of nurses in the public and 30% of nurses in the private acute sector experience difficulties in meeting patient needs because of insufficient staffing levels. The nurses in this study also believed that there was poor skills-mix, mostly caused by lack of funding, too few experienced staff or too many inexperienced staff. Many nurses in this study expressed their anger and frustration about their inability to complete their work to their professional satisfaction in the paid time available. Further, many nurses also expressed the view that because of this inability they were planning to leave the nursing profession. These findings are consistent with other research into the nursing workforce both within Australia and internationally.