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Nurses and NPs share the Most and Least Satisfying Aspects of Their Job in New Survey

Mentoring the next generation of nurses? Helping patients? Which of the “most satisfying aspects of being a nurse” from this survey also make your own list?

When you go to work as an RN or NP, you never know what the day will throw at you. But nothing beats when, at the end of it, you can say you wouldn’t have it any other way. And as it turns out, a majority of nurses experience this feeling, according to a recent survey from Medscape. Of about 10,000 respondents, 94% of RNs said they’re glad they became a nurse, along with 96% of NPs. Clinical nurse specialists had the highest levels of satisfaction, with 99%. Licensed practical nurses and RNs were tied for lowest. At least 78% of respondents agreed with the hypothetical, “If I could do it over again, I would choose nursing as a career.”

What about the job keeps nurses satisfied?

The research also dug into why these satisfaction rates are so high. These are the top “most rewarding aspects of the job” for RNs and LPNs, in order of popularity:

  • Helping/making a difference in people’s lives (most popular every year!).
  • Gratitude/relationships with patients.
  • Being proud of being a nurse/my nursing care.
  • Working at a job that I like.
  • Being good at what I do.
  • Relationships with coworkers/working as a team.
  • Opportunity to work in a variety of settings and places.
  • Being respected by my nursing peers/colleagues.
  • The amount of money I make.

Advanced practice nurses cited similar top reasons, but they included a few more:

  • Working to the full extent of my education, certification, and licensure.
  • Autonomy in the workplace.
  • Being proud of being an APRN.
  • Being respected by my peers and colleagues.

Many participants also shared their favorite parts of the job that just weren’t popular enough to make the final lists:

  • Teaching and mentoring the next generation of nurses.
  • Advocating for the patient.
  • Thinking critically to solve problems.
  • Doing research.
  • Owning my own business.
  • Opportunities for career growth.
  • Helping patients learn to take care of themselves.

What Aspects of the Job Annoy Nurses?

LPNs, RNs, and APRNs shared similar “least satisfying aspects of their job”:

  • Workplace politics and administration.
  • High patient loads (including the number of patients seen per day and nurse-to-patient ratios).
  • The amount of documentation required.
  • Lack of respect from physicians, managers, peers/colleagues.
  • Not being able to practice to the full extent of education, certification, and licensure.
  • Pay.
  • Emphasis on patient satisfaction as the highest priority.

In addition, participants listed dealing with insurance prior authorizations, nurse bullying, unsupportive managers, and poor communication skills as top challenges. Of the respondents who felt dissatisfied with their careers, the most popular plan was to pursue another path within nursing, followed by early retirement and reduced hours.

Looking Back at Career and Educational Choices

In addition to satisfaction, the survey also asked about career growth. For example, on average, RNs needed 2.1 months to find their first job and made $25.31 as their starting pay—for LPNs, it took 2.2 months of looking for a job to find one making $19.04 an hour. For NPs, the job search took about 2.4 months, and they earned $35.05 hourly. On the other end of the career spectrum, 45% of RN respondents said they feel financially ready for retirement compared to 58% of NPs, 78% of CRNAs, and 58% of CNS. LPNs were the least prepared, with 30% saying they did not feel financially ready for retirement.

Respondents also reflected on their educational paths. Only 37% of LPNs said they would follow the same path, as did 57% of RNs. However, 63 to 69% of APRNs felt they pursued the right educational trajectory.

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