Comparison of Working Conditions among Nurses in Magnet® and Non-Magnet® Hospitals

Comparison of Working Conditions among Nurses in Magnet® and

Non-Magnet® Hospitals

Critical Analysis Essay

Do healthcare facilities with higher staff retention have better working conditions compared to other hospitals? One can easily believe that staff retention is a direct result of good working conditions and an ample workplace environment. On the contrary, in their article appositely titled A Comparison of Working Conditions among Nurses in Magnet® and Non-Magnet® Hospitals, Trinkoff, Johantgen, Storr, Han, Liang, Gurses et al. (2010) contend that hospitals may have relatively similar working conditions but have very different rates of staff retention. The authors, who are registered nurses and researchers in nursing science, used 2004 data from on the Nurses Worklife and Health Study in hospitals to compare the relation between working conditions and staff retention in Magnet® and non- Magnet® hospitals. The retention of staff is an important aspect of organizational success in every field, and in hospitals, retention of nurses impacts general health outcomes significantly. Nurses, like any other types of employees, need to maintain a good work-life balance, grow their careers, and achieve personal development. Poor staff retention occurs where nurses leave their workplaces to seek the proverbial greener pastures in other facilities. It is henceforth important for healthcare facilities to maintain good working conditions. On the contrary, I believe that staff retention is dependent on many factors, meaning that working conditions alone do not automatically translate into high rates of staff retention.

In their study, Trinkoff et al. (2010) analyzed responses from 837 nurses working in 14 Magnet® and 157 non- Magnet® healthcare facilities. The cross sectional study involved the analysis of work schedules, psychological and physical demands, and the working environments in which the acute care nurses practiced. The researchers used job center questionnaires, work schedules from the hospitals involved in the study, and a scale rating of the hospitals working environments. The data collected was analyzed using SPSS to conduct univariate statistical analyses in the multi-variable issue of staff retention and working conditions. In this study, Trinkoff et al. (2010) found that in Magnet® hospitals, nurses were considerably less likely to report mandatory overtime or on-call assignments compared to the non- Magnet® hospitals. However, the authors also found that the number of hours worked in the two hospital types did not differ. In addition, they found that though nurses in Magnet® hospitals reported lower physical demands, the means of physical demands on nurses and the practice environment did not differ significantly in both Magnet® and non- Magnet® hospitals. From these findings, the authors conclude that the working conditions in the hospitals had insignificant variation, and therefore did not explain the variation in staff retention rates in Magnet® and non-Magnet® hospitals.

Trinkoff et al.’s (2010) article addresses a critical healthcare topic in the United States. According to the authors, low staff retention and high turnover are key problems in nursing practice in America. The researchers’ key observation and conclusion from their research is that though working conditions affect staff retention significantly, the retention of nurses is a multifaceted undertaking. The authors point out that in the Magnet®-designated facilities, nurses do not necessarily perceive exceptional working conditions, but the hospitals have high retention. This implies that hospitals can retain nurses with the same working conditions as other hospitals. Explaining further on this possibility, Trinkoff et al. (2010) explain that to recruit and retain staff, including nurses, “hospitals must be more appealing and functional”. In addition, they note that nurses are attracted to hospitals that have predictable and stable working hours. The authors note that being appealing and ensuring stability in work scheduling are some of the factors that may explain the high retention rates in Magnet® hospitals.

I find it relatively easy to concur with Trinkoff et al. (2010) that staff retention is not all about working conditions, but it also depends on scheduling stability and being appealing to employees. Nursing practice in acute care, unlike many careers, requires shifts running all day because patients need nursing care anytime throughout the day. Shifts in nursing practice can be very unstable because in times of accidents or high workload, nurses may be needed to extend shifts or work overtime. Hospitals, as Trinkoff et al. (2010) explains, need to maintain stable work schedules in order to attract, recruit, and retain nurses. Stability in scheduling is one of the factors that may appeal to nurses because they can plan for and manage their time off-work better. It is also easy to concur with the authors that hospitals need to be appealing to attract and retain employees. I believe that this is a simple summary of all that organizations in order to ensure staff retention. Organizations, including hospitals, should ensure that they are appealing by creating a good public image, putting their employees first, and harmonizing workers and the working environment. Trinkoff et al. (2010) mentions some factors that are involved in making an organization appealing to employees including availability of organizational support and provision of positive working environments. One can, however, argue that all these factors are part of working conditions, meaning that the authors would have done better in their article by explaining what working conditions entail.

Summarily, in their research report, Trinkoff et al. (2010) provide a comprehensive discussion of the relation between working conditions and staff retention in hospitals. In their research, the authors explain that working conditions are key factors that affect staff retention considerably, but staff retention requires more than just good working conditions. Simply put, to ensure staff retention, organizations need to do better than just providing good working conditions.


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