What Matters to Nurses? 10 Nursing Challenges To Know

The decades-long staffing shortage and high turnover rates pose complex nursing challenges — challenges that extend to recruiters as they try to find new talent to fill open roles. Nurse recruitment can often feel like an uphill, never-ending battle.

Data can help make sense of what healthcare workers find most challenging about their roles and what matters most to them. The 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report: Trends and Insights for Leaders and Recruiters from Nurse.com contains insights from over 2,500 RNs, APRNs, and LPNs/LVNs from regions across the U.S. The report explores data related to repercussions from the pandemic and trends related to nurses’ views of their jobs and satisfaction in their roles.

These are some of the areas identified as mattering most to nurses that should be top of mind in your recruiting efforts.

1. Support

Being a nurse can feel stressful — the job comes with a great deal of responsibility. Nurses want to know that the job they’re taking offers plenty of developmental support, such as adequate time for orientation. They will also be interested in online community support or resources that encourage self-care and wellness. Additionally, they want to know that when they have questions or concerns, they have colleagues and resources to help. Nurses want to work for a healthcare system that’s set up to ensure they’re successful in their new role.

2. Compensation

Compensation is one of the most important things nurses look for as they enter the workforce and throughout their careers. With the staff shortages left by the pandemic, new nurses (and those looking to make a change) have the advantage of filling these gaps. That ability comes with the goal of earning a decent wage. In addition to hourly wage or salary, other perks such as sign-on bonuses, retention bonuses, and possibly student loan forgiveness are compensation options nurses are looking for.

3. Burnout

Burnout, a phenomenon (not a medical condition) resulting from chronic workplace stress, is characterized by feelings of exhaustion. It includes increased mental distancing from one’s work or cynicism about work and reduced professional efficacy. High patient loads, long shifts, complex care protocols, high stress, and emotionally taxing situations can all contribute to burnout among healthcare professionals, harming their mental well-being.

4. Schedule

The schedule of a nurse may be one of the most alluring parts of the career. With many hospital nurses working 12-hour shifts, this can allow for more days off than a traditional weekday, nine to five schedule. However, office-based, or nonhospital nursing may not afford as many weekdays off. Nurses are often looking for opportunities to be flexible in finding the work-life balance that works best for them.

5. Nurse-to-patient ratios

Many things contribute to safe working conditions, and one of the most important is safe staffing ratios. This is top of mind for nurses. Nurse talent may directly inquire about nurse-to-patient ratios. Considering recent court cases involving nursing mistakes, candidates may pay closer attention to this factor.

6. Room for growth

While new nurses will primarily focus on gaining confidence in their first role, it’s helpful to know if an organization will help them achieve the next phase in their journey. It’s unrealistic to expect that every nurse will stay in their same role forever. Nurses want to know they have opportunities to develop their skills and grow in the healthcare system in which they are employed.

7. Workplace violence and injuries

Workplace violence has long been a challenge in health care, with healthcare workers accounting for 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence in the U.S. prior to 2019. Verbal abuse from the patient, family members, or others in the care setting is considered a form of workplace violence. Other forms are physical abuse, stalking, or threats of abuse. Several factors increase a nurse’s risk of facing workplace violence. They include directly dealing with patients who have a history of violence or who may be delirious or under the influence of drugs.

8. Appreciation

It’s a well-known fact that nursing is one of the most physically and emotionally challenging professions.

Caring for multiple patients and multitasking often leaves nurses without adequate time for meals or bathroom breaks. And with the national rise in staff shortages, nurses are also required to work extra shifts. These difficult working conditions can lead to nurse’s feeling unappreciated. One study showed that meaningful recognition decreased burnout and increased job satisfaction in nursing. While many organizations create their own recognition programs, The DAISY Award is known internationally and highly regarded among nurses and hospital leadership.

9. Physical and emotional well-being

Walking in a nurse’s shoes for a shift is not only physically exhausting (roughly four to five miles per 12-hour shift) but emotionally and mentally demanding as well. Managing priorities and caring for multiple patients simultaneously often leaves nurses without adequate time for basic necessities. National staff shortages means that more nurses are working back-to-back or extended shifts, increasing levels of exhaustion.

10. Nurse bullying

Nurse bullying, or lateral violence, is a form of workplace violence. It’s defined as non-physical, aggressive, hostile, and/or harmful behavior between coworkers. While individual acts of nurse bullying can appear relatively harmless, they create a toxic environment. In time, this takes a toll on morale and compromise patient care. Studies estimate that somewhere between 46% and 100% of nurses have experienced lateral violence at some point during their careers. In fact, one study found that more than 27% of nurses had experienced lateral violence within the previous six months.

How to approach nursing challenges

Nurses know their worth and want that to be recognized by their employer. By understanding what matters most to nurses, recruiters can better understand what factors into a nurse’s decision to leave an organization. This insight also shows what influences where they choose to stay.

Are you recruiting for an organization that’s working to address any of the nursing challenges discussed above? Let the talent know how. Is there a mentorship or meaningful recognition program in place? Are there other benefits or education opportunities? Share these when you can — they matter to nurses. Take the initiative to show that you understand the current nursing challenges. Promote those organizations that are making the effort to provide solutions.

For information on Nurse.com’s talent marketplace or to build your custom talent acquisition solution package, contact us today.