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UCLA Magazine Winter 2002
It's not your parents dorm anymore
Outside the Ivory Tower
A beautiful Mind
The Long March
The New Scientists
Critical Care

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Winter 2002
Critical Care

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"MANY NURSES FEEL OVERWHELMED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED.
I UNDERSTAND THE OVERWHELMED.
IT IS THE UNDERAPPRECIATION
THAT WE MUST FIX."

But the problem isn’t just one of not attracting enough people to the field; it’s also an issue of keeping them once they’ve entered the profession. In a recent survey published in the journal Health Affairs, more than 40 percent of hospital nurses reported being dissatisfied with their jobs. Major sources of job dissatisfaction among RNs include inadequate staffing, heavy workloads, increased requirements to work overtime and lack of sufficient support staff.

“The shortage really comes from the exit of nurses from the workplace,” says Linda Rosenstock, dean of the UCLA School of Public Health. “A number of people decide not to continue to be employed because it’s a very stressful job with occupational risks that we should work to reduce.” Rosenstock notes that staffing shortages are compounding already difficult conditions — conditions that put nurses at elevated risk for back injury, infection and violence — at many facilities. “We need to attract more nurses to make up for the current shortage, but we also must attend to some of the factors that caused us to lose a lot of the well-trained workers in the first place,” she says. Hospitals that take steps to give nurses more control over their work schedules help not only their employees, but also the overall level of patient care, Rosenstock adds.

UCLA has been one of those hospitals. In a survey by the Department of Nursing, flexible scheduling, along with salary, ranked at the top of the list of most important job factors. So the hospital’s nurse managers have become more flexible when making staff-scheduling decisions. “Five years ago, nurses would tell us days they needed to be off,” says Crooks. “Now, they give us the days they are able to work. Nurses today are really in the driver’s seat.”

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