Nurses Place Improving Workplace Conditions, Safety, on Top of Priority List

Oct. 10, 2001
Washington nurses say that working conditions and safety are two of the main reasons that nurses are leaving the profession.

A recent report from the Washington State Hospital Association and the Association of Washington Public Hospital District titled "Who Will Care for You?" is earning praise from the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA).

The group says the report is "a first step toward the examination of and solutions for the health care workforce shortages in Washington state." While there are more than 50,000 licensed registered nurses in Washington state, only 80 percent are employed in nursing and of those, only 54 percent are working full-time.

"I am very pleased to see the Hospital Association explore various ways, both within the workplace and through public policy, to recruit and retain qualified nursing staff to meet the needs of our growing community. There are many areas of common interest, especially those surrounding recruitment efforts, for collaboration in addressing this critical issue," said Judy Huntington, MN, RN, executive director of WSNA.

Working conditions, including health and safety issues, is at the top of the agenda for most state and national nursing organizations. According to a September 2001 American Nurses Association (ANA) survey, 88 percent of nurses reported that health and safety concerns influence their decision to continue working in the field of nursing and the kind of nursing work they choose to perform.

Over 70 percent of nurses cited acute and chronic effects of stress and overwork as one of their top three concerns. More than two-thirds of the nurses surveyed reported that they work some type of mandatory or unplanned overtime every month, mainly due to the shortage of nurses that is plaguing the country.

Louise Kaplan, PhD, ARNP, president of WSNA, stresses the need for hospitals to address workplace conditions, pointing out that nurses are working in high stress and dangerous environments.

"We will not be able to retain today''s practicing nurses or attract people into the profession if working conditions, compensation, and health and safety concerns are not properly addressed," says Kaplan.

by Sandy Smith

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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