N.J. nurses are overworked according to Rutgers College of Nursing professor

November 12, 2007

(NEWARK, N.J., Nov. 12, 2007) - New Jersey registered nurses are teetering on the brink of exhaustion due to heavier work loads, feeling that they are not able to provide proper patient care and receiving little support from management, according to a survey conducted by Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member Linda Flynn.

The 11-page survey, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was mailed to the homes of 44,343 New Jersey registered nurses and more than 21,000 nurses responded to the survey. It was the largest and most comprehensive surveys of New Jersey nurses ever conducted.

Findings from the survey, The State of the Nursing Workforce in New Jersey: Findings from a Statewide Survey of Registered Nurses, also indicated that nurses face frequent and chronic exposure to verbal abuse, complaints and work-related injuries and one in three nurses reported that their work loads are so heavy that they actually miss important changes in their patients' conditions. More than 50 percent said that there was not enough staff to get the work done.

The survey also reports that New Jersey will need to replace a third of its nursing workforce over the next 10 years just to maintain the current nurse supply and does not reflect the additional number of nurses needed to meet the demand of an increasing aging population.

"This is going to be a huge loss of nurses. But the workforce will not only be decimated by retirement but also by the number of dissatisfied nurses who may move to non-nursing positions," said Flynn, assistant professor at The College of Nursing at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "To make matters worse, qualified students are turned away from New Jersey schools of nursing due to the nursing faculty shortage. We have to do something to increase our educational capacity and hiring more nursing faculty to meet this demand."

Flynn, a Center Valley, PA resident, said health organizations should re-examine the responsibilities of the registered nurses to ensure that their time and specialized skills are used for essential patient care.

The survey also noted that even with significant increase in nurse graduates, it is unlikely that the projected deficit in New Jersey between registered nurses supply and demand will be eliminated over the next decade and beyond.

She pointed out that health organizations should explore incentives for older nurses to postpone retirement such as short work shifts, flexible scheduling and assign activities with low physical demands such as patient teaching and monitoring.
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Flynn will present the survey results at the Preparing New Jersey Nurses for the 21st Century conference at the Hilton Hotel in Woodbridge, N.J. on Nov. 16. The conference is hosted by the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing based at Rutgers College of Nursing and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

From its headquarters at Rutgers Newark, Rutgers College of Nursing offers a broad range of academic programs on all three Rutgers campuses. The college offers a master's program with unique practitioner specialties, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, and the first to offer a Ph.D. nursing degree in New Jersey.

Rutgers University

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