The Clip.

What you need to know as a nurse in this modern world.

What do nurses REALLY want?

What do nurses REALLY want?

The Clip: On Nursing Job Satisfaction

  • What Nurses Want: The Nurse Incentives Project. 
    • Researchers collected data on 5,176 nurses from multiple departments working in a 22-hospital system with locations across four states with a goal of determining "satisfaction with current employment incentives and potential managerial actions which might decrease or delay turnover by registered nurses"

Why you should care

  • According to sources cited in the paper, "The shortage of RNs in hospitals is expected to increase to 340,000 by 2020" [1]. 
  • In another paper we found, "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a national workforce shortage of 1 million nurses by 2025." 
  • Hiring new grads can't solve this problem either, at least according to a research paper on new grads that showed "between 18.1% and 26.2% of new graduates will leave their job in the first 2 years; half of them never returning to nursing." [3]

The Nurse Incentives Project: 

  • So what did we learn from the research project? 
  • The most important benefit to the overall sample of nurses was the WORK ENVIRONMENT
  • Described as "Cohesive work environment: working with people who help you, share the work and pull together as a team."  Additional incentives highly correlated with job satisfaction include: 
    • # of days floated off of home unit
    • higher stress scores
    • expressing job stress / unhappiness and feelings that the problems aren't addressed by management.
    • control over schedules.
    • overtime and premium pay

Thanks Capt. Obvious

  • I know that the results of the paper probably aren't a shocking revelation to anyone has spent more than a week working as a staff nurse in a hospital.  But before you take to the streets declaring my post a waste of time...
  • Here are some interesting non-obvious findings in the paper: 
    • "While nurses expressed high job satisfaction, they tended to be less satisfied with their current benefits. Over three-quarters (78.5%) indicated they were moderately unhappy to extremely unhappy with incentives (scores of 5 or less on a 10-point scale). However, when asked about satisfaction with their current position, 85.5% were generally or highly satisfied." 
    • To me that shows that having happy nurses isn't an impossible task, but that hospitals are focusing on the wrong incentives
    • Compare the table of ranked incentives below with the nursing job posts you see on Clipboard Health. 

Source: Medscape

  • The only incentive you see regularly listed in the job title is "Sign-on bonus", which ranks low across all generations.
  • No job descriptions that I can find mention overtime pay, premium pay, or info about the work environment, despite these incentives ranking in the top 4 of every nurse surveyed across generations. 
  • The incentives listed are the same for every nurse despite clear evidence that the needs of nurses vary from generation to generation.


  • As nurse leaders, we need to push our organizations to focus more on the incentives that matter most and to offer different benefits to nurses based on the stage of their career. 
  • At Clipboard Health, we are working hard to increase transparency in the areas that you care about.  So if you'd like more transparency around things like: overtime pay, premium pay, and work environment...check out the links below: 

Further reading

  • [1] What Nurses Want: The Nurse Incentives Project K. Lynn Wieck, PhD, RN, FAAN; Jean Dols, PhD, RN; Sally Northam, PhD, RN. Nurs Econ. 2009;27(3):169-177, 201.
  • [2]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions National Center for Health Workforce Analysis. (2013). The U.S. nursing workforce: Trends in supply and education. Rockville, MD: Author.
  • [3]: Casey, K., Fink, R., Krugman, M., & Propst J. (2004). The graduate nurse experience. Journal of Nursing Administration34(1), 303–311.
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