happy nurse smiling at station

Nursing Career Satisfaction vs. Job Satisfaction

After all the sacrifices and hard work, are you still happy with your choice to pursue a nursing career? If so, you are among the vast majority of nurses who claim to be satisfied with their careers. But a much smaller percentage of nurses are satisfied with their actual jobs, according to the latest Survey of Registered Nurses conducted by AMN Healthcare, which surveyed more than 3,400 nurses for this year’s report. The report also found that satisfaction levels vary between age groups.

Nurse Survey Results

Marcia Faller, PhD, RN, chief clinical officer for AMN Healthcare, reported that of the 3,400 nurses surveyed, 9 out of 10 are satisfied with their career choice, but 1 out of every 3 are unhappy with their current job. The 2013 survey found that only 73% of nurses were satisfied with their current jobs, while 35% said they often feel like resigning and 33% indicated that if they had their way, they would not be working in their current nursing job a year from now. Both percentages are up from responses in 2012. Older nurses were more likely to think about resigning or changing jobs. Male nurses were more likely than females to plan on leaving their jobs in the year ahead.

Twenty-three percent of nurses 55 or older said they plan to change their work life in the near future: 13% plan to retire, 3% plan to take a non-nursing job and 7% plan to work part-time. In addition, 72% of those surveyed would recommend a nursing career to others. Variation occurred generationally, with 80% of nurses aged 19-39 encouraging others to become a nurse, while 7% of nurses aged 40-54 and 70% of nurses aged 55 and older replied affirmatively.

Although nurses of all ages were pleased with their career choices, differences surfaced in how nurses in various age groups view the overall state of nursing today. Sixty-six percent of nurses 55 and older reported that nursing care has generally declined, while only 37% of nurses aged 19-39 felt that way.

Nursing and Technology

The electronic medical record was another area showing differences among the generations. Younger nurses were more positive about the technology and indicated it improved productivity, time management and the quality of patient care, while older nurses thought it was slowing them down and was not improving their patient care.

Despite the Institute of Medicine’s goal that 80% of nurses hold a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2020, just under half the RNs with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing plan to seek additional nursing education. Younger nurses were more likely than older nurses to pursue additional education. Nearly one-quarter of nurses aged 19-39 said they will pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing in the next three years, while 34% said they will pursue a master’s degree in nursing. Among nurses aged 40-54, 22% said they will seek a bachelor’s degree and 22% a master’s degree.

Certification also follows a generational pattern, with a larger percentage of older nurses holding specialty certification and more young nurses considering certification within the next three years. Oncology nurses hold the highest percentage of certification.

The survey also showed nurses continue to work long hours, with full-time nurses averaging about 42 hours per week. More than 30% of nurses reported working more than 40 hours, with 13% reporting working 46-50 hours weekly and 8% working more than 50 hours in that time period. Twelve percent of males and 6% of female nurses indicated working more than 50 hours per week.

To read the full results, download the AMN Healthcare 2013 Survey of Registered Nurses.

© 2014. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Debra Wood is a registered nurse and writer living in Orlando, Fla. with her two dogs. She has received the international nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau’s media award for excellence in journalism, as well as writer’s association honors for her creative work.