Hospital Restructuring and the Work of Registered Nurses


Thomas G. Rundall PhD School of Public Health, 416 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 (


American hospitals have undergone three waves of organizational restructuring in the past two decades. These changes have had direct effects on a key set of employees—nurses. A review of the relevant literature to identify the ways in which hospital restructuring affects the work of registered nurses focuses on three important structural characteristics of nursing work: nurses' work roles, workload, and control of work. The review concludes that the impact of restructuring on each of the characteristics affects nurses' satisfaction with their work and may also affect the quality of patient care. While much of the policy debate around restructuring focuses on the extent to which reductions in nurse staffing levels affects quality of care, it is important to examine not only changes in nurse staffing levels, but changes in the work performed by registered nurses, as well.