Large percentage of Finnish nurses would like to change jobs

(HELSINGIN SANOMAT) Half of Finnish nurses say that they would like to change jobs within the coming year, according to the EU-financed international RN4CAST survey.

Responding to the survey were 60,000 nurses from 12 European countries. The results were compared with findings from the United States, China, and some African countries.

More than 1,000 Finnish nurses working in surgical or internal medicine wards responded to the questionnaire in late 2009 and early 2010.

Nurses in Finland and in Greece had the greatest desires to change jobs. Half of those wanting to leave said that they would like to work at a different hospital, while one in four wanted to work in another branch of health care. One in five would have been willing to take on a completely new profession.

The Finnish part of the survey was conducted by the University of Eastern Finland. Researchers there are pondering why the desire to leave was as high in Finland as it was in Greece, even though the other answers indicated greater satisfaction among the Finnish nurses in the work itself than among their Greek colleagues.

For instance, four out of five Greek nurses said that they suffered from serious work-related exhaustion, compared with one in five nurses in Finland.

“The results are contradictory. When asked how satisfied the nurses are in their jobs at the hospitals where they work, two out of three said that they are very satisfied or fairly satisfied”, saysAnneli Ensio of the University of Eastern Finland.

Another question measuring the nurses’ possible desires to leave was: “If it were possible would you want to leave this hospital within the coming year because you are dissatisfied with your work?”. Forty-nine per cent of both Finnish and Greek nurses said yes.

Ensio has no explanations for the apparent contradictions. She says that it appears that Finnish nurses are more dissatisfied with their own work unit than in their profession as such.

“It’s about how they are managed, what the working methods are like, how many patients a single nurse is responsible for. We are drawing up a report on this”, Ensio says.

On Tuesday the Finnish Nurses’ Association published the results of the association’s own job satisfaction questionnaire, which drew responses from more than 2,000 nurses.

One in three respondents to the survey were dissatisfied. The greatest amount of dissatisfaction was among those aged 26 to 35; four in ten said that they were not happy with their work.

The main complaints involve low pay, shortcomings in management, and certain practices at work. Many said that the work that they were doing does not correspond to their education – folding sheets and opening packages instead of actual patient care.

Both Anneli Ensio and Nurses’ Association chair Merja Merasto are worried.

“Sixty per cent of nurse supervisors will retire in five years, as well as one in three nurses. It is quite a nightmare scenario if working conditions are not upgraded so that younger people will want to stay in the profession.