The Right Hospital Environment Makes for Happy Nurses

NursingJanuary 23, 2014


One of the most important factors for nurse satisfaction is the hospital environment in which they work. Magnet certification, awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is the most prestegious recognition a hospital can receive.

Magnet certification is a grueling process that takes a minimum of 18 months, and a great deal of work goes into this application process. A hospital seeking certification must undergo many self-evaluation procedures, including both patient and nurse satisfaction evaluations. Only a small percentage of hospitals in the United States have obtained this ambitious goal, thereby making it difficult to obtain a nursing job at a Magnet facility, even if there is one in your area. However, if you research the hospitals in the geographic area in which you plan to work, you may find that some have the culture of a Magnet facility without actually having this designation.

Patient satisfaction speaks directly to the hospital environment and its workplace culture. You can actually look at patient satisfaction survey results from the Hospital Care Quality Information from the Consumer Perspective (HCAHPS) survey by using the "Compare Hospitals" tool on the U.S. government's health care website. These are standardized surveys that measure hospitals' patient satisfaction scores, and on this website, you can even compare the scores of different hospitals. While you might be surprised by some of the scores, be sure to pay attention to the national average score, as this tells you how far ahead or behind a particular hospital may be.

Other things to consider are nurse turnover rates, scheduling flexibility, and a culture of quality, measured by things such as hand-washing initiatives and nurse-to-patient ratios. Hospitals or other health care facilities can have a culture of quality without reaching for Magnet designation, because the process may be too cost-prohibitive a goal for all hospitals to pursue.

Keep in mind that some professionals are naturally drawn to health care facilities that are in resource poor areas, and will not have the latest technology or the highest salaries. These entities often work harder to provide quality care that creates a high level of patient satisfaction, even though patients may have to be referred to other institutions for more high-level needs.

If you are "interviewing" a potential employer, take the time to meet with as many current employees as possible. If everyone seems burned out, or complains that the hospital's administration isn't sensitive to their needs, then perhaps you need to look elsewhere. But first look at the patient satisfaction numbers, because they tell a story about the experience of real people with that provider. If patients disliked their experience, chances are that you will too. 

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